You know, this is why I left the farm.
When I was about 13 we had a cow go down with a calf gone breach. The calf had died by the time we found her in the morning but the cow had been trying to squeeze the calf out sideways all night and couldn’t push anymore. Somebody had to stick their arm way up in the cow and rotate the calf so it was head and feet first.
Now, you might think that there is all kinds of room up in a cow’s vagina (and there is) but it tightens a lot at the cervix. The cervix is pushed open from the inside by the pressure of the calf in the womb being squeezed outward by the muscles of the womb. If the cow stops pushing, you’ve got maybe a two-inch gap to squeeze into and try to open it. It takes small hands and arms.
Between my 6’2″ grandfather, our burly family friend Mr. Tiesdale and the 13-year-old me, who do you think had the slimmest, girliest hands?
Cows don’t experience anything like the pain of human birth. No animal does. It’s our big brains that cause the problem in the birth canal. Most animals just squirt their young right out. At this point the cow was down on her side from exhaustion but otherwise in no major pain. She seemed more annoyed than anything.
With the cow on the ground, I myself had to lay down on my right side in the manure rich, fecund soil of the corral and snake my right arm into the cow.
Oh, did I mention we didn’t have any of those fancy shoulder high plastic gloves? I just took off my shirt, lubed the arm with some veterinary lubricant (KY for cows) and slid myself up to my shoulder into warm, moist cow’s vagina.
So far, so good, but then, perhaps stimulated by the insertion of my arm, the cow decided to get back in the game and push. Pushing in the reproductive tract is really horrendous squeezing of everything in the tract. A cow’s large reproductive muscles can easily break a human arm. Only the very skilled and daring try a manual manipulation at the start of the birthing process, and even then they have to time it right. This cow was exhausted so she didn’t hurt me but the squeezing along the entire length of my arm felt like…
… well, to be honest, I don’t have a simile because nothing in my experience before or since has even remotely compared to having my arm squeezed by a foot of massive vagina and a thirty gallon womb. Nope, nothing.
Although not painful, the squeezing bovine lady parts locked me in place like a pipe in a welder’s vice. I couldn’t budge an inch until she relaxed. I just had to lay there on my side in corral soil, starring warily at the back end of the cow and waiting patiently to see if I would ever get my arm back in one piece.
At that point, the cow farted.
Cow farts aren’t nearly as noxious as human or dog farts because cows don’t eat a lot of protein and don’t have a varied diet. It mostly just wet grass and methane. Mostly.
Nevertheless, a point blank fart of such magnitude that makes your hair stream back gracefully like a model’s hair on a beachside photo shoot is not a pleasant experience.
Right then, I gave up any ideas of being a rancher/farmer and dedicated myself to finding an air conditioned job somewhere far, far away from livestock.
Ever since then, whenever I had a bad day, I console myself that no matter what other crap I have had to deal with, I didn’t have my arm all the way up to the shoulder inside a cow. That thought makes meetings with the marketing dweebs just fly by.
(I know someone will ask, so I will tell you that the cow was fine. I eventually got the dead calf rotated, got its forelegs through the cervix and the head lined up. We tied a rope around the forelegs, added more lube and pulled the dead calf out with gentle tugs from a tractor. The cow recovered quickly and went on to have stunning reproductive success with many more calves.)