A Bad Cough

This story comes from another local historian, Clifford M. Harrison, so I thank him for that. Farmers, if nothing else, are inventive and self-reliant. Most of the pioneers of this area were not farmers before they got here, but few lasted long if they didn’t quickly become one.

One winter, back in the 1920s, when Charlie Lyons was doing his chores, he noticed that one of his cows had a piece of turnip stuck in her throat. It was lodged just past her windpipe, so she could still breathe, but that piece of turnip was stuck so tight it made the cow gag and cough.

Charlie was worried about the cow so he hurried up with his chores and called on his good friend Roy Whetham. He asked Roy’s advice and assistance with this problem of the ailing cow. Roy rubbed his chin and tried to figure what to do and he reasoned, “If this was a child you’d just give them a good whack on the back and that would solve the problem!” So Charlie took the idea a step further.

He suggested that instead of using a hand to apply the whack on the back of the cow, they’d employ a sledge hammer. But in order not to injure the cow, a plank was to be placed over the cow’s back to spread out the blow. Sounded like not a bad idea, but the men were still not totally sure it would work.

As they watched the animal continue to suffer, their minds turned to summoning a vet for help. However, it was almost midnight and it was getting a little late to be calling the vet. That’s when Charlie said, “Just for the hell of it, why don’t we try the plank and sledgehammer idea?” Roy agreed. Charlie held the plank in one arm up against the cow’s back and with the other arm he held the tail. Roy squared himself behind the cow and prepared to strike the blow with the sledgehammer. The two men figured that the best time to strike the blow would be just when the cow was ready to let out a big cough.

Their timing was perfect. The cow started coughing, Roy let fly with the sledge and that chunk of turnip flew out of the cow like a rocket! And just like that, the Minto cow with the bad cough was as good as new.

– adapted from Campbell Cork’s contribution to the Treasures of Minto Story Telling Event (May 24, 2013)