I was around 12 years old and I wanted to show a heifer in 4-H. We had about 8 registered Angus replacement heifers. It was my job to take care of them. Dad worked 6 days a week as milk man and I did most of the cow chores. I had one picked out as the best. Of course to my 12 year old mind, the biggest one was the "best" one. So I started taming her down, spending time with her, etc. I would sit on a bucket in the barnyard and feed her grain, scratch her ears, and so on. She got pretty friendly. Six or eight weeks before the fair I asked Dad to help me halter break her. I figured it would be a cinch. Well Dad comes out, I point out "my" heifer, and he just laughed. He pointed to another heifer and said that is the one you want. Of course in retrospect, he was right. She was a nice, well built, typey Angus. Of course she was also the most miserable witch in the bunch. Not just wild, but mean. She would take every chance she had to kick you and at one time got me right in the stomach full force. Well, there was nothing to do but get at it. We got a halter on her, snubbed her up, and I went to work taming her down. She would pull, sling her head, stomp her feat, charge, kick, and so on. I spent the whole summer with rope burned hands. I got her to the point where I could somewhat get her to go where I wanted. The day of the project tour, where all the club members went around to everyones farms to see their projects before the fair, should have been an omen to me. I had her all slicked up, washed and combed, and tied to the hitching rail. When we got there she was nowhere to be found. She somehow untied herself and got loose. She made it to the neighbors corn field and it took 2 days to catch her.
On to the fair. One of the families in the club had a big goose neck stock trailer and he volunteered to take everyones livestock to the fair grounds. We put 2 rope halters on the heifer and hoped for the best. We told them that we would meet them there in a half an hour. about 15 minutes the phone rings. She was loose! They had lead her out of the trailer, the trailer owner and his 18 yo son each holding one lead rope. she looked around, decided this wasn't her scene, and bolted. She ran from the barns, through the steam engine display, past the 4-H food stand, and straight through the Midway. Of course there was pandemonium. Half the crowd, being farm folk were chasing her, and the other half, being townies were running for their lives. She got to the snowfence border of the fairgrounds and never broke stride as she cleared the fence with room to spare. Meanwhile, my Dad and me were tearing into town. We knew that if she made the nearby Mississippi river bottoms we would be lucky to ever see her again.
The road away from the fairgrounds ran along a man made lake. As she left the vicinity she now had people chasing her on foot, on horseback, in pickups, and at least one motorcycle. She just couldn't take on this kind of pressure. She turned and jumped into the lake. She quickly learned to swim. She headed for deep water. Brian, the trailer owners son, and another teen jumped right in after and started swimming. Just for comic relief, there was a speed boat stalled in the water and a girl with water skis in the water. Of course she was convinced that the one and only reason that a cow would be in the lake and swimming towards her was because it wanted to do her some sort of mischief. She was screaming hysterically.
Eventually, the boys caught up with the heifer on a convenient sand bar. They got ahold of the ropes and someone magically appeared with a rowboat. Somehow they returned the beast to shore. They got her back up the bank and snubbed up to a pickup. Remember that Dad and I had still not arrived. We got there as they were leading her back to the fair, tied to the truck, with 2 soaking wet lads sitting in the back of the truck.
It was the event of the fair. As I would lie on my tack box, trying to take a nap in the ensuing days, people would walk by, point and whisper (is that the one?)
Thankfully we made it through the fair with no further disasters. __________________