The Dancing Cow
By Linda C. Butler
Told by Charlie Vance
I had a job working as a hired hand for a farmer when I was seventeen. One day when we had finished work and had put the saddles horses out to pasture, the farmer received a phone call from a neighbor who said that one of his cows was dancing in the field.
We had no idea what was causing the unusual behavior in this cow so we went back outside and caught the saddle horses again and rode to the pasture three or four miles away. When we arrived we saw a 2-year old black heifer jumping and performing strange antics. We were puzzled and approached the animal.
I could see something outside the cow’s mouth and I said: “She’s frothing at the mouth.”
“No, I think it’s porcupine quills.”
I got closer and I could make out the quills. The cow’s movement gave the appearance of froth at her mouth. Daylight was fading, and the farmer said:
“We’ve got to separate her from the others and lead her to the barn.”
It was a challenge to get a rope around the heifer and lead her with the horses to the barn as she continued to move around frantically. We finally arrived at the barn and got her inside. We snubbed her down, laid her on her side and I held her down while the farmer examined her. Quills covered most of her face and were embedded into her flesh.
Porcupine quills have barbs on them, and with each movement, they work themselves deeper. These quills would have killed the cow as she could not graze and would have starved. The farmer, being as gentle as he could, used a heavy pair of pliers to pull each quill out, but the barbs were difficult to remove.
The farmer finally finished removing the quills as daylight streaked across the horizon. He wiped the heifer’s nose and mouth with an antiseptic and got up and released the animal. We kept her in the barn for a day before returning her to pasture. We then went back to our regular farm duties and the heifer’s dancing days were over.
(c) 2013 Linda C Butler