Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sheep Tipping

I promised my friend Keith that I would discover the truth about cow tipping as I became a proper cowgirl. As an added bonus for all my urban readers, I'll throw in a bit about sheep tipping, too.

Cow tipping is one of those stories that someone made up who had never been very close to a cow. The idea is that clever folks sneak up on unsuspecting cattle and tip them over and have a great laugh about it. This is the kind of thing that works best if your entire knowledge of cattle is limited to those little plastic models that come with the Complete 500 Piece Farm Set with Barn and Tractor for only $9.99. I probably got mine in the mail from Battle Creek, Michigan with a whole bunch of cereal box tops.

By the time I stopped collecting box tops for surprises in the mail, I had figured out that cow tipping was just one of those jokes that lingers because it is so preposterous. City kids say to country folks, "so is it true on Saturday nights out in the country you go cow tipping for fun?" and the country kids invariably go along with it with something like, "You city kids don't know what you're missing." And then everyone laughs.

Keith loves a joke. Note, I did not say a good joke--Keith will wring humour from some of the silliest things, so naturally he asked me to check out cow tipping and I solemnly promised that I would. Imagine my surprise when I asked my husband about cow tipping and he said yes, he has tipped cows. But let me quickly clarify: cow tipping or, more likely bull tipping, is done so that the animal's feet can be seen by a vet. The only incidents I know of are a bull whose hooves needed trimming. Done carefully from a safety point of view for the vet and for the sake of the animal and of course to avoid the damage that a reluctant animal could inflict on the would-be tipper. A far cry from the stories of hapless cows and pranks, but there it is: the truth about cow tipping for Keith.

Now sheep are a different story. A sheep can roll onto its back and if it gets stuck there it can die. Because it cannot chew the cud in this position, the grass in its rumen gets gassy and the stomach swells up. Sheep tipping---actually, more like sheep rolling, is a rescue maneuver. It is not as easy as it sounds.

We were out for a drive and I noticed a sheep on its back. I mentioned this, still not sure whether the sheep tipping stories were true or brought out for my benefit. I am by nature very gullible, and, with my previous knowledge of animals limited to cats and plastic farm animals, I am a very easy mark. But sheep on their backs is a real farming problem.

We turned the car around and spotted the sheep, who seemed dangerously still. Morris honked the horn and her legs flailed and she rocked from side to side but made no progress toward getting upright. With more enthusiasm than sense, I was out of the car and climbing over a gate with my eye on the sheep and only a passing thought for my church dress and sensible pumps. My sympathies were very much with the sheep until I realized as I got nearer that the sheep was not aware of my intentions and not inclined to accept help being tipped back into an upright position. I also became aware of just how vigorously she was kicking.

"Don't be afraid of her," Morris coached from the other side of the gate, and then, "Make sure you hold her head because she can hurt you with her head." Although useful knowledge, it was not reassuring. I remembered the day my Wee Calfie nearly knocked me unconscious with a casual blow of her head. I managed to grasp the sheep's head in my hands as if I were about to perform a Vulcan mind link and turned her head toward the fence and where her legs seemed best able to go to get back under her and away from me. In an instant she was up and away.


At 10:27 PM, Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

I'm kind of disappointed.

I thought there really was such a thing as cow tipping.

There is such a thing as outhouse tipping.

But that's entirely different.

At 1:37 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

Now, would there ever be cat tipping? or dog tipping? Or waitress tipping? No to the first two, because they're small enuf to be controlled by humans. But it does take 2 people to put ear-mite medication in a cat's ear.

At 3:59 AM, Blogger Gabriel Harley said...

sheep on their backs is a real farming problem.

In all honesty, did you even have a clue that you would be blogging phrases like this about five years ago? ;-)

And to ampiggy, who asked Now, would there ever be cat tipping? I must respond: of course not. Everyone know that cats always land on their feet, and that toast always lands butter-side down. So, at best, you can only hope to staple toast to a cat, push them off the table, and thereby make both levitate.

At 6:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed to frequently that crackers always land with pnut btr side down too, quirks of gravity, the gravity of hunger perhaps.

What a lucky farmer to have you about, landgirl, lucky indeed!

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Where fibers meet mud said...

You are a hero in your own right and to think you did it while wearing your Sunday best!

At 7:09 AM, Blogger Hayden said...

ahhh, darn. and the movie "Cars" made it so funny...

does sound dangerous getting a sheep upright again. sharp hooves. and critters will try to protect themselves, particularly when feeling vulnerable.

now why is it that you were selected for the task while hubby stayed other side of the gate?

At 5:16 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh I think cow tipping is too good to be dismissed just because it is not true. Hmm yup outhouse tipping is a very diffrent matter.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

I don't know about that small enuf to be controlled by humans thing with respect to cats. Only if the cats are in on it. Moral suasion--that's the key to cat tipping.

At 5:18 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

No, Gabe, I could not have dreamed 5 years ago of hurdling gates and tipping sheep. I love your solution to the cats-toast conundrum.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, man I love thinking about peanut butter on crackers--proper saltines not these water biscuits that look almost like crackers. I am getting homesick for some of the oddest food stuffs.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Hayden, I am faster over the gates than my husband even in my Sunday clothes and, as landgirl, I am a sort of apprentice or on the job training.


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