Monday, October 8, 2007
Uncle Hubert's Custom Cows
I was making the coffee this morning, glancing out the kitchen window and watching the occasional car make it's way to town for Sunday services when I saw one of Uncle Hubert's trucks going by with a cattle trailer. He must be moving his livestock between pastures, the auction yard isn't open on Sundays.
Uncle Hubert (not my actual "uncle") is well known around Frog Pond Holler for his cow breeding expertise. You see, the landscape surrounding our little town is dotted with farms, some of which have been in operation and belonging to the same families for generations. What sets these farms apart from those you find in other parts of the country is that they consist of very little flat land. I wouldn't describe the land as "gentle rolling hills" exactly, some of it is quite steep. If you're lucky enough to have a small portion of your property which is reasonably flat, you either build your house in that spot or plant a few rows of tobacco.
Keeping livestock in the steep, hilly pastures creates some unique situations, situations which Uncle Hubert's ancestors found solutions to and capitalized on. That's how "Uncle Hubert's Custom Cow Breeding" was born.
Hubert learned the craft from his daddy, who learned it from his daddy's daddy, who came from old Scottish stock, the family having bred cows this way for centuries. When Hubert first began in the business he tried new methods, creating his special "Frontloader" cows, for people who's property was very steep. These cows had shorter front legs, making it easy for them to graze the pastures, moving steadily uphill. He experimented with "Backenders" as well, having short back legs to make them better suited to go downhill. Eventually Hubert grasped the universal rule that "what goes up, must come down" and saw that there was a "flaw in the slaw," as it were. It didn't really register with Hubert until that incident when a Frontloader cow belonging to Sarah Hawkins entered into that period of time when she was prime for breedin' ... if you get my drift.. and a Backender bull over at Cletus' daddy's place caught a whiff of her amorous desires.
The resulting carnage was heard for miles. Cletus still talks about seeing those cows entangled in barbed wire and rolling down six acres of steep pasture eventually making their way on to the main drag through town. They say if you go down to the square in the wee hours of the morning and listen closely you can still hear the "moooooooo thump thump mooooooooooooo thump moooooooooooooo."
Hubert stopped breeding Frontloaders and Backenders right after that and focused on breeding his more popular custom cow breed, the Sidewinder. Sidewinders are bred with either both right or both left legs a bit shorter than the others to make it easier for them to go round and round, encircling the hills of pasture land. In retrospect, Hubert realized that his daddy and his daddy's daddy knew what they were doing and he stopped experimenting with new breeds.
I guess I should mention that because Hubert has no formal education, he's no scientist by any means, there is the occasional mishap during the insemination process. When this happens and a calf is born with a short front left leg and a short back right leg, we call that a "Sprawl-legged," Hubert chalks it up to an act of the Almighty and the unfortunate bovine becomes the Sunday dinner special down at Bessie's BBQ Barn and Gift Emporium.
Written by: Mahala