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Animals Have Mind Of Their Own

Animals Have Mind Of Their Own
Stay alert, think safety around animals.

Recently I went to feed four yearling ewes, about 175 pounds each. They were in a small pen, next to a pen of market-ready pigs. My typical routine is to walk into the narrow sheep pen and pour grain into each of four one-animal sized feeders. Our sheep aren't very good at sharing.

This particular evening I walked in, and quickly divided the feed amongst the four lambs. The two-hole pig feeder on the other side of the fence caught my eye. The pigs had broken it loose from the gate, and it was lying on its back in the middle of, well, a pig wallow. I was only distracted for a couple of seconds, when normally I would have moved out of the way immediately. A couple seconds is all it took.

Apparently one of the yearlings decided my legs stood between her and her feed pan. She darted in front and under my legs, flipping me up and over. I'm a big man, but animals have amazing strength.

Reconstructing what happened, I somersaulted over the board fence and landed rolling onto the back of my head, neck, and upper back. It was a four foot drop into the pig pen. This was one of those 'expect the worse' moments. It took a few seconds to decide if I was still in one piece.

It was hard to breathe, my neck burned, my heart rate was up, and there was plenty of pain. I got out of the pens and sat on the truck tailgate, deciding if I could continue r onto. Naturally, I didn't have my cell phone, so I couldn't contact anyone for help.

I finally muttered through finishing feeding, taking frequent breaks. As I reached the house, my wife was coming to the door, ready to see if I was alright. I wasn't alright.

A few days of rest, plenty of pain medicine and heating pad time finally helped me get over it. Here's the point, however. I landed on bedding and a manure pack. If I had landed on the bare concrete underneath instead, I might not be writing this. And the animal wasn't malicious, she was just hungry.

Trust me, I'm concentrating on staying alert around animals this spring.

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