The Last Windrow: This farm boy can think of plenty of farm rodeo events

Columnist John Wetrosky recalls life on the farm and what chores could be part of a rodeo

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I lay there on the Iowa sod, staring up into the nostrils of my brother's English hackney horse. No air remained in my lungs. The horse just stared down at me after stopping short with no notice. I don't remember flying through the air, but I must have.

Our community witnessed a high school rodeo over this past weekend. The fairgrounds were filled to the brim with horse trailers, horses and young folks wearing broad brimmed hats of every sort. The bleachers were full of spectators watching the various events.

I could hear cheers from the crowd as calves were roped, horses rounded barrels and broncs leaped across the arena in an attempt to deposit young cowboys on their billfolds.

I got to thinking about my young farm experience and wondered why we never had rodeos for us farm kids who never rode a horse. Why should only those who rode horses show their talents to an eager crowd? I could think of a number of events that could have promoted what we farm boys and girls had occasion to do in the everyday life we experienced.

One such event might have been the daring and muscle strength needed in the "ringing" of a 230-pound sow. It was with much dexterity that one would approach such a critter with a metal noose strung through a metal pipe in the attempt to put the pig's nose in the noose while your partner applied the metal ring in the tip of her nose.


Holding onto a screaming, jerking swine that outweighed you by double was indeed challenging. Yes, such an event would attract the crowd's attention.

Applying a set of cow "kickers" might be another event that could prove deadly if not done correctly. Some cows seemed to have a natural ability to dislodge their rear hips and send a young cow milk-er sprawling into the gutter.

One found out early which cows were adept at kicking and hence a pair of "kickers" were placed on her rear legs to insure that no crippling blows were struck. Timing was everything, and if one should miss the target on the first attempt, teeth might be lost.

And taking the "kickers" off could be just as daunting. I remember one late evening when my dad missed his chance to removed the "kickers" and he ended up chasing the "kicker-ed"cow across the Iowa landscape. I can still see his body silhouetted against the sunset as he ran behind that cow. One doesn't forget such scenes.

Catching chickens in the trees after dark, de-horning cattle, shooting rats under the corncrib, loading hay bales on a rack on a pocket gopher mounded field, making a straight plow furrow, shearing sheep, cutting pigs and stringing barbed wire could all be farm rodeo events.

I have a feeling a crowd might be attracted and willing to purchase a ticket. Well, maybe.

None of those farm kid events I mentioned would include the horse at whose nostrils I was looking up into as I lay on the earth, without any air in my lungs after my brother's English hackney horse had deposited me there. My rodeo events would be a bit different. Sans the horse.

Saddle up!


See you next time. Okay?

John Wetrosky
John Wetrosky (2022)

Opinion by John Wetrosky
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