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Monday, 16 August 2010 14:16

On The Edge of Common Sense O.B. Chain Marathon

Written by  Baxter Black, DVM
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Charlie survived and is now a member of that elite group of cowmen who have run the O.B. Chain Marathon.

“O.B. chain” for you readers who are poultry producers and might think this refers to manacles worn by Over the Border illegals or a delicate veterinary instrument used to spay heifers by Ovary Burglars, it is not. O.B. stands for Obstetrical. Obstetrics, obstetricians … refers to pregnancy, labor and birth.

During a calving … well, let me tell you Charlie’s story. He and his brother run a modest-sized cow ranch in the pretty rolling country north of Lewistown, Montana. It was a wet spring and the brothers were in the midst of calving outside. They had bought one hundred bred heifers. They worked together during the day and took turns each night so the other could get some sleep.

The night of the marathon, Charlie drove out through the calving pasture shining his headlights and spotlighting the group. An experienced hand in the calving can detect the subtle differences in a resting cow and one in the process of parturition. It is a developed skill.

The heifer in question was obviously engaged. He parked the pickup so the lights shone upon her. Taking a rubber bucket with his O.B. chains and handles, he snuck around behind her. She never moved as he lathered up, reached in and felt a hoof presenting itself into the birth canal. Charlie deftly built a loop in the O.B. chain, a slipknot if you will, and placed it around the protruding fetlock. He pulled to snug it tight. It was at that moment she came out of her trance. The other end of the chain pulled tight around his wrist, where he had temporarily hung the other slipknot.

Jerked to his feet as she sprang up, he had a fleeting thought of being launched in orbit! The ruckus roused the other cows! Through the coulees, up the bank, across the grass, down the slope, along the manure-covered hay feeding trail alternately running, skating, slewing, bouncing, dragging and plowing, in her wake in the moonlight, he accompanied her for three hours. Soggy, sweating and gasping for breath he finally pulled loose and collapsed.

Depending on how fast a pregnant heifer can run dragging 180 pounds of cowboy, including five pounds of mud, I’m guessing they covered 12 to 15 miles in that three hours.

That might make the record book in the O.B. Chain Marathon for both time and distance!

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