Rule Five Cow Cuddling Friday

Oh, for the luvva Pete, how could people get any more ridiculous? Now there is, apparently, such a thing as “cow cuddling,” and the aficionados of that nonsense are worried that the latest in avian influenzas might spoil a good thing for everybody that… likes to cuddle cows.

I can’t believe I’m seeing this.

Paying farmers to snuggle up with half-ton heifers is all the rage in the United States thanks to social media. For visitors, cuddling dairy or beef cattle can be therapeutic, or simply an adventure for city dwellers looking for good old country fun.

But this practice of opening the barn door to the public is facing a new risk, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed bird flu in dairy herds in nine states.

Scientists have said the outbreak is likely more widespread across the nation’s more than 26,000 licensed dairy farms based on findings of H5N1 particles in about 20% of milk samples. One Texas dairy worker tested positive for the virus, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have monitored more than 100 people who have been exposed.

Government officials say the risk of human infection is low. But state and federal government officials are urging cattle and dairy farmers to limit outside visitors as much as possible.

I have a rather vivid memory – and some flat spots on the bones in my right foot to prove it – of rather stupidly going into a stall with a steer to check its ear tag, which I couldn’t see from the aisle.  The steer chose that moment to have a nice comfortable lean against the boards, with me in the middle. I had a shingle nail in my pocket, so as I could feel my guts being squeezed into goo, I got the nail in my right fist and proceeded to pummel the steer.

He ignored me.  I probably wasn’t bothering him any more than a mosquito.  But my uncle heard me yelling, came over and grabbed the cow’s tail and moved it – and then chewed me out for being dumb enough to go in a stall with a steer.

These damn things aren’t cuddly.  They are big, powerful, with skin damn near an inch thick, and they are stupid and frequently mean.  Some cattle are really mean; when I was a kid, a neighbor had a blue-ribbon Holstein bull he called “The Antichrist,” and it was a killer; the farmer who owned it didn’t trust it any farther than he could throw it.  “Give him half a chance,” he once told a group of us boys, “and he’ll kill you.  Mean as a snake, that one.”

And these urban (they’ve got to be urban) nitwits think they are cuddly.

It was Linda Pachl, Joey’s mom, who first saw a post about Luz Farms’ cow snuggle sessions on Facebook – and suggested the idea to her son. Joey asked the farmers if they could make up a banner in Emma’s school colors that said, “Prom?”

A week later, as country music crooned over the barn’s battered radio, the banner was slung over the body of Yogi, a calf on the farm. Pachl nudged girlfriend Emma Maiers’ shoulder. “Well?” he asked.

“I love cows!” squealed Maiers, 16. Pachl grinned. Not exactly the answer he was expecting, but he figured she meant yes.

To Linda Pachlm her son Joey, and Joey’s girlfriend Emma, I can only say this:

You’re all idiots.