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In my 25-plus years of working in the community newspaper business, I often get asked when I’m going to write about my extended family. (Keep in mind it’s usually my family that is doing the asking.)
While I hail from Grant County now, my roots are in Owen County. My mother is Eula Smoot and my father was Buster Baker, both Owen County natives. My Granny Baker lived on Blanton Street, across from “the cheese factory” for many, many years.
I spent a lot of time visiting my Smoot, Baker, Bishop and Hawkins relatives as a child and know that the pool hall still sells a fine cheeseburger.
As a kid, the Owen County Fair was always one of the highlights of my summer.
When a relative asks about getting a mention in my writing, I (kind-of) jokingly reply that I have to wait until they are all dead and buried so they won’t sue me.
When I write a column, I try to find humor in most all situations because that’s how I deal with life and let’s face it families can be just downright funny sometimes.
Take what started out innocently enough on a recent Sunday afternoon.
My cousin, Kevin Luther, the EMS director for Owen County, asked if I would help him work on his landscaping and clean the garage to which I agreed to help.
We were making progress on throwing away trash, sorting out the good stuff and organizing extension cords, tools and supplies, when we heard one of his newly purchased cows bawling.
The poor baby was lying down and couldn’t seem to get up. He finally managed to stand on his shaky legs and he started to cough, so we knew we had to get some medicine in him and that’s when the fun began.
I grew up on a farm around cows, horses, pigs and chickens, but haven’t worked with them in a long time. I guess you can take the girl off the farm, but not the farm out of the girl and just because I haven’t dealt with cows in a while doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to herd them or have long forgotten the many baby calves that I bottle fed daily.
However, since I didn’t know that I’d be chasing cows, I might have not been dressed for running through a pasture with cow patties everywhere. Had I known that, I would have chosen something besides high-heeled sandals for my family’s big adventure.
If you know anything about cows, you know that a mama cow is pretty protective of her baby, so not only were we dealing with a sick calf, but we were dealing with a mad mama. Throw in a large, black bull that weighs about 2,000 pounds and you’ve got a recipe for a funny cow chase.
Things were going fairly well until the calf, scared by the half dozen seemingly crazy people surrounding him while waving their arms and yelling, jumped through the fence and took off with me, my daughter, her boyfriend and my three cousins in hot pursuit.
I’m not sure who winded faster that sick calf or the rest of us out-of-shape office types not used to running up and down hills and hollers.
Zach, my daughter’s boyfriend, lunged for the calf and managed to grab his hind legs before he took a side kick which left him basically holding the calf’s tail.
“Shoot him, shoot him,” we all started jumping up and down and yelling at Kevin, who managed to get one shot of antibiotics in the little fella before he slipped out of Zach’s grasp.
That calf took off for the hills, with mama running right behind him.
I turned around and that’s when I saw the rest of the family including my mother, my 101-year-old Aunt Lucy, Kevin’s mother, Shirley; a couple of other cousins and a neighbor or two standing on the hillside, bent double laughing at our efforts.
My only thought was that if someone had video taped the whole incident, we might have been able to submit it to America’s Funniest Home Videos and possibly win some money for it.
In the middle of the great cow chase, we had a dog fight. My dog, Hank, a Boxer, and my cousin’s dog, Bella, a Doberman Pinscher, took a decided dislike to one another and got into a nasty face off, which prompted a whole lot of running, yelling and more shortness of breath.
The dog fight ended in a tie and it was back to our sick cow calamity.
With the help of an ATV, we managed to herd the cow and baby back into the barn lot and then several calves began to cough, so we knew we had to separate them to treat them.
The next 30 minutes were chaotic as we chased the cows around the barn, one kept getting out, one kept getting in the wrong pen, one red mama cow challenged us to a head butting contest and we couldn’t get a gate opened and closed in time to stop all the cows from escaping.
I even managed to snag my favorite University of Kentucky t-shirt on a barbed wire fence as I attempted to roll underneath and get to the gate quickly.
My daughter made the statement as we began to clean the garage, which was really what we were supposed to be working on, that she thought she could be a farm girl without any problem.
After the chase and melee that ensued she announced that she would not be pursuing life on a farm after all.
My cousins and I did make a promise to her that the next time we were all together we’d go cow tipping and Snipe hunting - two activities that are a rite of passage for anyone living in a rural area.
I think she’s still trying to figure out what a snipe is and probably Googled it to find out.
I’ll be sure and share that adventure.
(Note: As of press time, the baby calf is doing great, so we must have done something right!)
Jamie Baker-Nantz is editor of the Grant County News. She can be reached at 859-824-3343 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org