Wild Cow Milking - Part 1

            The wild cow milking event in rodeo’s is a crazy, funny, action scene and even sometimes dangerous. Picture nine to a dozen mother range cows turned loose in the arena.  They are all nursing mothers. Their calves are held in confinement elsewhere. Their udders have at least some milk in them. These cows are not used to being milked by man, only by their nursing calves. For a man to grab ahold of their teats is not on the list of their “wanna do’s”.  Picture now the same number of men, mounted horseback who are going to try to lasso these cows and hold them. Also picture another group of cowboys, the same number, who are on foot who are ready to jump on the cows neck and hold it while the mounted cowboy, jumps off his horse and with a paper cup in on hand, gets a hold of the cows teat with the other hand and squeezes some milk into the cup, then he runs up to the arena judge to prove he has milk, and hopefully win a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place for he and his partner and get the money for their prowess.

           Let me tell you it’s pretty much pandemonium out there, with bawling cantankerous cows running every which way, mounted cowboys chasing after them, lariats twirling trying to avoid a wreck with other horses, cows, and cowboys, and other cowboys holding the cows, (have you ever tried to hold an over-heated, over excited, over mad, big strong mama cow just by shear muscle strength, nobody helping you?).  Well I’m here to say it’s a little bit insane to even try it.  A big cow has more muscles in her neck than you have in your entire body. So you take this insanity and multiply it by a factor of 4 (2 cowboys, 1 horse, 1 cow) X 12 and you have yourself an honest to goodness wild (and emphasis on wild) cow milking contest, then add in the roaring crowd. I have John Hoopes to thank for introducing me to this insane part of my life and getting me involved in it, with all the kicking, stomping, dragging, and crashing and broken bones that go along with it. It was a lot of fun. We even won some money.

            One time John and I entered the Slash E Ranch Rodeo at Henry’s Lake, Idaho and took the big money (1st place) on a warm summer Friday nite. We impressed the women folk immensely especially the money part. So, we decided to do a repeat the next night. Yeah, “the best laid plans….” You got it!

            I was the “mugger”, the guy who grabs hold of said strong agitated cow and holds (tries) the cow sort of still while his partner (John) gets off his horse and milks the cow after he ropes her while I hold her. Right away this cow is breakin’ all the rules. Instead of standing still for the milk withdrawal, she takes off dragging me across the arena, I have my left hand holding her by her nose, thumb up left nostril, fingers up right nostril, pulling her head to the left as far as I can, my right arm around her muscly neck holding on for dear life while we hit the fence at full speed. This stops said cow. I am now in a strange twisted position with my legs underneath Mama, my knees on the ground, and torso still laced to her neck and head. Upset at all the goin’s on, said cow decides to teach me a lesson by using my legs (the back of them) for a tread mill to see how much weight she can lose at my expense.  She proceeds to dig her big hard hind left hoof into the back of my left thigh, over and over again. This action rips my Levis in two, the separation taking place just below the area where it could get embarrassing. I was very appreciative of that. Very appreciative. Now her hard sharp split hoof can dig into the soft white flesh on the back of my thigh un-impaired by the canvass Levi fabric, and draw more blood for special effects and the blood thirsty crowd that are cheering like any good crowd would have done at the Roman Coliseum.

            All this is making me mad. I yell at John, “Did ya milk her yet?” I can hear John laughing so hard he’s wheezing. This makes me even madder. Just then the cow decides to twist me under her to see if I’ll let go of her. When she twists me, it pops a few ribs, not hers, mine. This now makes me even madder. I hear John telling me to let go, the contest is over, we didn’t place. I don’t seem to care in my anger and pain and yell “milk her anyway”. This just makes John and the crowd laugh harder. At this point I decide I’ve made enough of a fool of myself and let go of said cow, who kindly kicks me and stomps me as she gladly departs.

            All this, for some strange reason, tickled John’s funny bone and he couldn’t stop laughing, well at least I made a few people happy even if we didn’t win any money. So that’s the way it went that Saturday night. It was a pretty painful journey home to Idaho Falls, it hurt to laugh, but the way everybody told it, it was darn funny and I couldn’t help but laugh myself through my tears and broken ribs.


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