When hay bales run amok

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One of the lightest memories to linger from my daughter’s 9-10-11 wedding involves a special guest, who did not receive an official invitation to the informal, country hitchin’—but who chose to attend, nonetheless. Insisted upon it, if you will, in a rather dramatic fashion.
The wedding reception featured a veritable buffet of home-grown and home-cooked food. Among other things, there were roasting ears drenched in butter, homemade pecan pie (among my favorite, and second only to key lime), barbecued pork (This little piggy spent the entire night roasting on a spit, didn’t utter a sound, and didn’t make it back home.) and hamburgers.
The bride proudly told me the burgers came from her own cow, which she killed all by herself. Much to the amazed chagrin of her then-fiancé, whom I hereby dub “Cal.” (After that much-loved country singer, Cal Smith, whose hit song, “Country Bumpkin,” reminds me of my daughter’s romance with her new husband.)
An aside: For anyone reading this column who may not know, I changed the names of my four children in my book, to provide them a measure of anonymity. Cal is my new son-in-law, having married my third daughter, “Gabby.”
Here’s the story she told, but I can assure you it did not affect the taste of the burgers in any way. At all. Free of hormones or antibiotics, and farm-fed by a girl who loves animals as much as her grandmother, they were absolutely delicious. Even considering the bovine’s manner of demise. (And now, depending upon your own connection to animal life and the enjoyment it gives us, one might wish to pause for a moment of silence, reflecting on all of God’s creatures who have made the ultimate sacrifice.)
Gabby was operating a piece of farm equipment—the same Kubota tractor she rode in on to meet her groom at the altar. She was trying to unload a hay bale when, unfortunately, “Gertrude” chose that exact same moment to lumber along in front of said machine.
Just as the 800-pound round bale dropped from the bucket onto the ground and began rolling . . . directly into Gertrude.
“It broke her neck and I had to put her down,” Gabby explained. “She was clearly suicidal. She walked right into the path of the hay bale,” Gabby added, laughing.
But Call did not think it quite that funny. “Gabby I’ve been farming for 20 years and I’ve never heard of someone killing a cow with a hay bale!” she said, relating Cal’s comment upon learning of the cow’s demise..
So yes, it was not a bull (adult male, with intact testicles). Nor was it a steer (sans testicles). Gertrude was a cow (adult female) and she paid with her life—just so, I think, she could attend the wedding. Of all the guests in attendance, I vote the award for best (posthumous) wedding gift go to her.
Editor’s note: If you have ever thought about running amok, or have lived with someone who has, please check out Sister of Silence, which is not about bovines of either gender, with or without testicles. You can buy it here: Nellie Bly Books


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