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Farm workIf those of us blessed with ADHD learned from our tragedies, we wouldn’t be blessed with ADHD.

And, life expectancies would rise.

Living on a farm is different from growing up there. Growing up on a farm allows one to understand life and death, changing seasons, birds and the bees, maybe even the Federal government’s irrational approach to agricultural management.

But living on a farm –

You already said that, corrects Screen Two helpfully.

– joins man and beast. Yeah, there’s a different story, especially for a 30-year-old Jersey Boy unfamiliar with cowchips and cornsnakes.

clawfoot iron  bathtubOne time I was in our big clawfoot bathtub, looking out the window. A cow strolled up and birthed a calf. Stunned, I told my screens, “Wish I had a camera!” Then ol’ Bessie ate the nourishing placental afterbirth and I –

Wished for a bucket?

And living on a farm bonds neighbors. Good ol’ Jowell Ross, gentleman farmer of 15 fine Washington State acres, understands cows. Not even close to understanding ADHD, however, he asks that I help give vitamins to the bovines. I agree to his request and share with him my mental image of those bossies –

Cows. Just call ’em cows.

–  slurping down Wilma, Fred and other One-a-Day Flintstones vitamins.

Farmer Ross has a strange look on his face as I finish the description. He slowly shakes his head, finally sighs and says, “Got a dozen to do.”

Tomorrow is only a day away, but sleep evaporates as screens cheer, Ranch hand Rowdy Yates! Morning finds me running to the barn and Farmer Ross, who puts one huge, pink tablet in my 10 fingers. (Yes, I still have 10 at this time.)

My eyes widen. “Laundry soap, sir?”

“Vitamins, son. Big cows. Big vitamins.”

cows-on-the-farmI offer the giant tablet to the nearest cow. She stares. I wink knowingly and tell her, “Go ahead, dum-dum. Lick it down.” Farmer Joe – we are workmates now – slowly walks ’round the cow, takes the pink pill from my hand, inserts it into some alien-looking device, then silently hands it all back to me.

“And this would be?”

“Cow gun, Blackie. Pill shooter. Load the vitamin, stick the gun in her mouth, pull the trigger, and down goes one pill.”

Or one cow.

“Aren’t you afraid this gun will – um, blow out her backside?”

Like thousands before him, Farmer Joe ignores me. “I’ll steady the cow from back here. Do what I told you.”

I’m unsure of placing my fingers near that critter’s cud-chompers. Then Screen Four whispers, Sure beats his position. I look and see Farmer Joe lined up perfectly for a Bessie kick that will give headaches to future generations …

If future generations even happen after kicks to those places.

I press gun to grass-licking lips and wait.  Three minutes later, the stressed voice of Farmer Ross – our workmate camaraderie deteriorating – explains, “Blackwell, one vitamin to each cow.”

cow-smiling“I know.”

“Then what’s taking so long, son?”

“She hasn’t smiled yet.”


“When the cow smiles, I’ll fire the pill.”

The printable part of his response is, roughly, “Open her mouth, stick the gun inside, hang tight to the handle and stuff your arm in all the way up to your shoulder.”

Cooooool! shout the screens, and Five adds, Relax. You’ve got this, cowboy.

“Once you’re in as far as you can possibly go, fire the gun to put the vitamin deep into a back stomach.”

Back stomach? How many are there?

I grab the cow’s lips – humongous, super tough, slippery lips – and she opens her mouth. Gun goes in, hand holds handle, arm stretches onward, ever inward until Bessie’s lips and my shoulder are one.

“Fire!” Farmer Ross shouts, scaring Bessie. She fearfully gulps, sucking pill gun from my hand.

Somewhere inside four stomachs, a vitamin pill improves cow life and a vitamin gun ends it.

“Next one ready?” asks Farmer Joe, his voice lighter and friendlier now that he thinks we’ve accomplished something. I do not answer because I cannot speak.

Locked in place, I am eye to eye with Bessie. My frantic probing of the cow’s innards makes her unhappy and me woozy. She mournfully moos, then sneezes in my face. The sliming mucus shower reminds me of –

Ghostbusters! Who you gonna call?

Truth dawns upon less-friendly Farmer Ross, who commands, “Shoot, boy! Shoooot!” as though a man-eating lion were moments from attacking.

Too late.

Noise from one of the cow’s stomachs – perhaps the third? – suggests its owner will join me in projectile vomiting. A burp issues forth with such heat and odor, my knees wobble. Got … to … withdraw.

Smack! goes something hard against my fingers, then retreats. Smack! again, and the Gatling Gun of Good Health is mine, mine, all mine!

I squeeze the trigger, feel the soft poof of a vitamin leaving the gun, and withdraw my soaking wet arm. Slumping to my knees in exhaustion and thanks, I see I’m surrounded by manure piles. To my weary body, they look soft and welcoming with their warming steam.

Completely natural, too! affirms Screen Two seductively.

The distraught voice of Farmer Ross booms from the far side of Bessie, “Eleven to go, boy.” He shoos her and calls another cow to us. Wearily I load the second vitamin into the strange-looking weapon, sigh deeply and, no lie

Place the gun against my head. The cow smiles.

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How now, brown cow [I Love Lucy episode]

How now, brown cow [origin of phrase]