The Farmer and the Calf Pen

One of my past employers came from a farm near where I grew up in North Dakota.  Growing up on the farm and working among farmers the first several years of my life, I had heard many interesting farmer stories.  One time while the boss and I were visiting with a number of people with a farming background, I couldn’t resist sharing one of my “farming stories” with them.

One of the farmers near where I had grown up had a calf that he kept inside his barn in a calf pen over the winter.  All farmers know that when you keep animals in the barn over the winter one of the natural consequences is that you have to clean out the barn floor periodically.  In practical terms this means that you must pitch the manure from an individual pen out into the main floor area of the barn.  It’s not a pleasant job.  Then you must follow up with transporting the manure from the barn floor to the manure pile outside.

After cleaning the manure out of the pen and the barn, the farmer would then replace the straw on the floor of the pen with fresh straw.  Over the course of a winter this would happen several times.

Though the job has warmth to it, it is not an inviting occupation to consider or to accomplish.  The farmer decided that, instead of go to all that work during the winter months, he would just add some fresh straw to the calf pen every so often.  When the build-up attained a height that would render the pen railing irrelevant, he would nail on another rail.

By the time spring came the calf was standing with his head up to the ceiling of the barn.  (To be sure, though it was many years ago, I don’t believe the barn was one of those tall red ones that we associate with the word “barn.”)  In the spring when the farmer decided to let the calf out, the calf was too frightened to come down off of his manure mountain.

If the calf had decided to jump down, there was a strong possibility that it would have broken a leg.  The calf was too big for the farmer to pick up.  The farmer had to rig up a winch and winch the calf out of the pen and down to the barn floor.

To a farmer this is a very humorous story.  I was surprised that, with his background, my boss wasn’t laughing.  In fact, he seemed a little pale.  He got very quiet.

I never asked him which farm he had grown up on.

Before you tell a story, it is a good idea to weigh the circumstances and possible consequences.

Oh well.  Hwe was rather difficult to get along with anyway.