Sometimes you ask yourself, why?
Jeff needed a workin’ pen for his little herd of cows. He decided all he needed was some panels and a head gate. He rounded up some 16-foot panels of continuous fence, a metal head gate and two 8-foot posts.
Part of his intention was to involve his family with the cow project. Let them get a sense of what it takes to raise and manage cows. To teach them by example about the work ethic and Christian behavior. Jeff was qualified; he was a dealer for one of those companies that sells cattle-handling equipment. Of course, he decided he could cut costs and labor because he knew the shortcuts. He only had 20 cows, so a secondhand head catch would work. Some of the panels were damaged at the store; he could use them. On roundup day he was ready.
With his three kids, the oldest 9, and the wife, they made the cattle drive and herded them into the corral. He had patched together a short alley parallel to the fence that directed the cows to the head gate. Jeff had driven two 8-foot wooden posts into the soil with his tractor. The head gate was wired to the front of the posts, and the ends of the foot-long horizontal connecting rods were wired to the inside of the posts.
The first cow into the alley was the out-of-control renegade crossbreed that stands back in the corner and glares at you. Jeff had not thought a “sweep” was necessary, in his dreams he thought they could just put a bar behind the cows as they came down the alley. This meant directing his children to scare the cows and push them up. They were screaming, banging pots and pans, plastic whips and an empty dog food bausing g.
Jeff was trying to get the bar behind the cow, then race up to the head gate to catch her, then back to push, then back to catch her … the cow banged into the head gate headfirst! It was closed. Jeff ran forward to open the gate. The cow backed up. Jeff closed the gate and ran back to push her up. She beat him to the head gate again … banging it over and over. Each crash bent the posts further and further forward till they were at an angle.
This managed to create a triangular space between the posts and the panels on both sides. The cow wedged her head into the space, enlarging it bigger and bigger, making room for one foot, then the other. Jeff, wearing his chaps and spurs and wielding a chunk of black plastic pipe, was valiantly trying to contain the beast. Alas, the aforementioned cow created her own side exit and bent the 16-foot panel of continuous fence to a screeching 90 degrees, allowing her to make her escape.
The family watched in awe. Jeff was mad; he mumbled something and the kids froze! The middle child said, “Dad …?”
Jeff looked at his family and the concerned expressions on their collective faces. He took a breath and sighed. He waited for them to say, “… Are you alright? ... The cow’s running away! ... Your shirt is torn!”
He waited. “Dad,” said the kid, “you said the ‘S’ word!”