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It’s The Pitts: The Big Pink Blob

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

I’m a big Temple Grandin fan, and in one of her articles Grandin explained how when a sudden scary event happens for the first time in an animal’s life it can create “fear memories” which can last a lifetime. 

The first time I hauled my wonder horse Gentleman, I had to do it in the only trailer available to me – my grandpa’s old two-horse trailer he won at a roping in the 1940s. Gentleman loaded easily enough, but then he had to try to remain in an upright position while straddling the trailer axle and without putting too much weight on the floorboards because they were rotten. 

If it wasn’t for the accumulated manure, there wouldn’t have been any structure for Gentleman to stand on at all. 

Gentleman did not enjoy his first trip in the old trailer, and when I opened the tailgate, he pulled back with such force he broke the rope halter and came flying out of there. When I finally caught him a mile away, Gentleman was still shaking like a meadowlark trying to pass a peach pit. 

As a result, a fear memory was imprinted on Gentleman’s brain, and henceforth, not even the offensive line of the Kansas City Chiefs, several four-by-four fenceposts, a skid steer and an assortment of chains, ropes and a garden hose could have gotten him to load.

Grandin didn’t say so, but I think fear memories can also be imprinted on the human brain. 

Because I didn’t have a lot of money to start out with, I raised sheep instead of cattle, figuring I’d do my learning and experimenting with cheaper stock. It turned out to be a wise move be-cause I needed more experience in calving heifers and cows, so I learned on sheep. 

I found it relatively easy to grab on to the head and two front feet of a lamb, and after making sure the feet belonged to the right head, I could pull a lamb. 

By the time I had three seasons of lambing a flock of sheep behind me, I felt ready to tackle cattle. I’d taken a course in artificial insemination and felt I knew my way around the inside of a cow, so I started out with what I called “one-shot” cows, figuring these old grannies wouldn’t have any problems with calving and I could gradually learn on the job. 

But this idea of starting with older cows instead of bred heifers presented its own set of problems. 

One day while Gentleman and I were checking on the cows, I was shocked to see an old cow with a gigantic pink blob hanging out of her butt. It was my first experience with a uterine prolapse, and I was so stunned by the big pink blob, it created a fear memory in my brain which has never gone away.

My vet was tied up elsewhere so I called on my neighbor Jeep to come help put the 30-pound mass back inside of the cow where it belonged. We got the cow standing up in my squeeze chute and did the best we could cleaning the filthy blob, then Jeep said we needed a five-pound sack of sugar to coat the blob to reduce its size. 

I don’t know how we did it, but we managed to make the blob disappear. Then we had another problem – how do we keep the cow from giving birth to her own uterus again as she was attempting to do? 

Jeep requested a Mason jar filled with water and the lid on real tight. Then Jeep had me put this jar inside of the cow, hoping the weight of the water in the jar would keep the uterus inside. 

Finally I sewed up the vulva of the cow, allowing enough room to pee but not enough for her to give birth to her uterus again.

After she’d fattened up a bit, she looked pretty good, so I sent the old gal to the auction, completely forgetting I hadn’t removed the Mason jar like I was supposed to. I’ll bet a real fear memory was created in the next rancher – who probably bought her as a “one-shot” cow as well – when the old gal gave birth to twins – a calf and a Mason jar.

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