It all happened in slow motion. I was walking across the paddock to offer our vet, Sarah, a light steel pigtail post for protection when the cow we were so desperately trying to save squared up to me, lowered her head and charged.
I managed to strafe her face once with the spring steel rod but it did nothing to deter her. Collecting me under the chin with her neck, she effortlessly threw her pathetic matador into the air. Luckily, I was not trampled; as my head hit the ground I saw her white belly soar through the sky as she cantered off towards the distant corner of the paddock.
I stood up, sobbing, laughing and shaking. My jaw sat unnervingly askew and my head was already sore but I was still alive and walking.
After three x-rays and a CAT scan, I’m home again, neck in a brace and feeling chastened for the anxiety I caused my ashen-faced children, who witnessed the whole thing. So, what went wrong?
The cow was a terrified first-time calver (“heifer”) in big trouble. She’d been down for a couple of hours with a rotten calf inside and sprang up miraculously the moment Sarah arrived.
1. My instincts were right that she was cranky but I didn’t know her and should have been triply careful.
2. I got off the Bobcat and walked to the vet. Why oh why didn’t I drive to the vet?
3. The vet was on the ground instead of in the Bobcat. I’d already called for extra help on wheels and if we’d waited another five minutes, this would never have happened. A vet’s time is valuable but not more valuable than life itself.
In other words, I was in a rush and took unnecessary risks in the name of getting the job done even though I pride myself on being very safety-conscious. The latest WorkSafe statistics prove dairy farming is agriculture’s most dangerous job: please learn from my mistakes and take care out there.