Of Milk and Madness

They called me mad. At first it was only the moo's of vealy youngens, but it was in their nature so who was I to go against the nature of things. But soon the gossip was in everyone's traps, 'Don't go near her... She's got the disease... We won't even be good enough for the slaughterhouse because of her...'.

I wandered down the wire, and tried to block the banter from my mind when they came, the woolly little imbeciles.

"Yer the maaaaad one!" The entire flock stared up at me.

They shifted and stared.

"Proverbial ground beef!" even the black one was getting into it from behind the safety of the fence.

"Just hold onto your foot and mouth." I spit my cud. The flock shot back a pace. It always worked on the sheepish bastards.

Seems a neighbor had come around, talking of madness to the old hag in the farmhouse. She'd babbled about it until even the sheep had caught wind and spilled it over the fence to our herd. Now, even the bull kept his hooves off me, if you'll believe it.

The farmer himself came and lingered for ages, staring at us. We tried to be natural, but you should have seen the flagellating relief when he left.

"He knows," Shirley, the saggy-uttered tramp, piped up, "This'll be the end of it. Just like the Cooper farm."

"Embarrassing, being burned up like that." Maude added. "You know what you should do, don't you."

"They're just rumors." I tried.

The farmer came around every day since. It was wearing the girls down, and by week's end, the bull came over.

"We have to find a solution!"

"Tell the girls to get off my shank. None of it's true."

"Just do what's right if you know what's good for your calves."

So that was that, I was an out and out outcast.

Day turned to dusk and the farmer and his barking bitch came to round us up. I lagged behind, letting the grass tickle my utters and the breeze wash over me, and knew this would be the last time. The herd crowded into the barn. It was now or never. They would be waiting for me with murder on their minds - murder and cud.

I bolted for the fence furthest from the barn, but the pesky little bitch came yapping at my hooves, and as I reached the charged and clamped my mouth down on the wire, I felt her canine's dig into my hind. A moment passed and I sure as heck wasn't dying, just jolting under the wash of the electric current as the bitch jittered and yelped underneath. The old man came running, cursing and waving a cattle prod.

"Git, ya darn cow. Git offa the dog."

He prodded me again and again. Some cows began wandering back, and I could hear the guffaws. I just closed my eyes, dropped my shank down on the dog and waited. The old man would have to get his shotgun sooner or later.

About the author:

Timo Puolitaipale was raised on the Canadian prairies, though he currently lives on the south coast of Finland where he writes for a living. Timo wrote and directed the Finnish language film "Kalman Kauniit" due out in spring 2002, and has a habit of reviewing films for www.absolutewrite.com although he refuses to be called a critic.