The Planted Row: Sometimes you just have to let go

Farm Forum

In this edition of the Farm Forum, we celebrate rural life with our first ever Farm Lifestyles special section (page 7G) and a front page story about two women who are working hard to make sure residents in rural areas have access to basic services.

We asked our readers to submit their best farm stories, and you certainly obliged. We printed as many of them as we could, but we didn’t have space to print them all. So, I encourage you to visit our website,, to view all the stories. In particular there is an excellent story titled “School Days, School Days” by former S.D. State Senator Milton E. Nelson that was just too long to include in our print edition, but it is definitely worth a read.

I’d like to get in on the fun, so I’m including another story about life on the farm down South, where I grew up.

On a Christmas morning in the early 90s, my father got a call from a neighbor near the town of Kossuth, Mississippi. The problem involved a cow that was standing in her pasture. It was very cold that morning, and the cow refused to come into the barn (or move at all, really). The neighbor also said it seemed like the cow’s breathing was a little rough, and she wondered if dad had any antibiotics she could use. Dad didn’t have any, but he promised he could get some even though it was Christmas.

Dad called up his best friend, Brad, who was the manager of the local cooperative ag supply store. Brad left his home and family to go pick up some antibiotics at the store, and he met Dad out in the neighbor’s pasture. They found the cow, and sure enough, she wasn’t moving. She was just standing still out in the pasture. They tried to lead her to the barn, but she wouldn’t budge. There was a light snow on the ground, and these two Southern boys were not used to the cold. They decided to treat the cow right there and get back inside where it was warm.

For some reason, they only had a 50-foot rope. Brad tied it around the cow’s neck and held one end loosely while Dad loaded the syringe. The bovine seemed pretty calm, and Brad didn’t think to hold her any tighter. Well, the moment the cow saw the syringe, she let out a beller and took off!

Now, Brad is tall, lanky, and light, and the moment there was no more slack in the rope, he flew through the air for several yards and landed on his chest.

Somehow, Brad held on to the rope. Dad yelled for him to let go, but he didn’t. Brad was determined to bring her in. Unfortunately, the cow had no intention of slowing down, so there he was, holding onto the rope for dear life, being dragged through the pasture on his belly, kicking up a cloud of snow.

Now, this was not the dumbest cow in the herd. She ran past a power pole and took a hard left. Brad was pulled toward the pole at high speed, and Dad yelled one last time, “Brad! Let go before you get hurt!” Brad let go just in time to stop inches from the pole.

The cow was on the loose, but the rope had been pulled so tight across her neck that it began to choke her, and a few moments later she stopped. They quickly treated her, and she calmly let them lead her to the barn.

Dad and Brad both went back to their holiday activities. Brad forgot all about the incident until a few months later he was presented with the Kossuth Cow Catcher Award at the local ag banquet.