Exploding cows


Four of us were discussing bovids and wandering along whatever verbal cattle trails the conversation took.  “Have you ever had any mishaps with exploding cows?” one of the gentleman ranchers asked me.


“No, I haven’t,” I answered honestly. 

“You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?”

“I think I do.  Go ahead and tell me though, in case I’m mistaken.”

So, Tom H.—one of the gentleman ranchers—told me about it.  “When a cow gets too hot, like it can with the weather we’ve had for so long, it can die of heatstroke.  It can die from other causes, too, but when it’s hot like this, it ain’t good if it dies and isn’t tended to right away.  If it lays out somewhere, the decomposing cow or bull creates gases.  The cow’s skin holds these gases inside, like a balloon, till in the heat it just swells and swells till it becomes bloated with the gases its rotting carcass produces.”

“I think I know where this is going,” I said.  The other fellows were chuckling.

“Yeah, well, then you know what happens when some dang fool throws a rock at a big balloon or a bloated cow.  My son had some friends over, and they were out ATV’n, and came across a dead cow that looked like the Goodyear blimp!  They knew about exploding cows, but one of the boys hadn’t, and he didn’t know any better.  He was warned, but he got off the ATV and picked up a rock—the other boys warned him, but when they saw him start to throw the rock, they headed for the hills!

“The cow exploded the instant that rock hit it, and that boy was baptized with putrefied cow innards!  And boys, y’all know there ain’t nothing that smells worse than putrefied cow!

“Well, they wouldn’t let him on the ATVs.  The boy had to walk back to the house.  When he got there, my wife wouldn’t let him in the yard.  He had to go to the barn with a bar of soap and wash out there with the water hose.  They burned his clothes, and he didn’t protest.  He didn’t leave nekkid, for my son gave him some duds; but he took a lot of the putrefied cow smell with him when he went home, though.  It lingers for a while, you know.”

Tom’s anecdote stirred up amusing recollections of exploding cow stories from the others, and some were told for my benefit.  I was the “greenhorn” in the group.  They probably were surprised I even knew what a cow was.  They were men of goodwill, however, and did not hold my ignorance against me.

Billy Roy asked me, “Did you know some people believe cattle farts is the cause of global warming?”

“I’ve heard that,” I answered.  “I find it a little hard to believe.  They belch more than they fart, and the methane gas they produce is a pretty small fraction of the so-called ‘greenhouse’ gases in the atmosphere, regardless of which end it comes from.”

Jack S. said.  “I didn’t believe in global warming till this summer.  I may grudgingly think there’s something to it now, but I don’t think cattle planned it.”

“I don’t know,” Tom said.  “Maybe they’re passing gas on purpose.  Maybe it’s a cattle conspiracy.”  Then Tom said ominously, “Maybe they’re not as dumb as they pretend to be.”

“Or maybe the ‘warmist alarmist’ aren’t as smart as they pretend to be,” said Billy Roy. 

They went back to the subject of exploding cows, but not for long, for our waitress arrived with our orders.  “Let’s see.  T-bone, medium rare, for you,” as she placed Jack’s steak on the table in front of him.  “T-bone, medium, for you, Tom, and sirloin, rare, for Jack.  And you,” she said to me, “have the ribeye, medium.”

So, we said grace and began eating.  The steaks were good, too.  I would have enjoyed mine better, though, if I could have gotten visions of exploding cows off my mind.

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