Doug Ferguson sent us this story—
We repeatedly discuss the benefits of stockmanship. Never in my mind could I ever imagine that I’d be in the situation I was in last week, and my stockmanship skill came in handy.
I was driving across Nebraska on I80, going about 80 mph, when I got passed by a few cars like I was sitting still. Within a handful of seconds, we were slamming on our brakes and coming to a very hard stop. Just a couple hundred yards in front of me there was a pile up that blocked the road.
I sat there for roughly half an hour before one lane was opened up. Traffic began to flow through, but it was a lot of stop and go. I assumed it was because emergency vehicles were moving. I couldn’t see much with the cars in front of me. As I passed by the accident, it was one of those where you’re sure someone just died.
I then discovered the reason for stop and go traffic was because there were cattle on the road. The first responders, tow truck guys, and volunteer fire fighters were trying to make a semi-circle around them and hold them against the fence that runs along side the road. This was not working too well. The cattle were trying to run past their pressure away from the fence and kept getting on the road. As you can imagine, there were a lot of first responders, sirens, helicopters and so on, and they were trying to hold the cows in that same area.
I debated with myself if I pull over or drive on. I really didn’t want to be late to the cattle auction. I pulled over. A state trooper was not happy with me for stopping. I’ll put it this way, after an exchange of colorful words between him and I, I was finally able to convince him to, “let me take care of this problem over here (pointing at the cows). I’m good at what I do. I’ll eliminate the problem and make it safer for everyone. There’s too much pressure here for the cows to handle, just let me drive ’em up the ditch away from here.”
He was not convinced I could drive the cows myself, and so he had a tow truck drive along side me on the shoulder and a couple of other people walk along the side of the road, just in case
These were Holstein cows, and I have to say I’ve never seen Holsteins act up like these were, but they were having a really bad day.
I began driving them away from the commotion. It didn’t take long, probably less than 200 yards, and the cows started grazing as we were moving along. When I saw that, I knew I had won. Those cows were not going to go back onto the road.
A couple of guys showed up with trailers and panels to catch the cows. They didn’t have enough panels to get all the cows in at one time. While they loaded the first half of the cows, the other bunch started to lay down. That’s when I walked back to my truck and left.