Herald and Journal, December 14, 1998

Abracadabra, No. 16 is gone


Haven't there been a lot of magic shows on television lately?

There was one I saw a few weeks ago that was supposed to reveal the tricks behind the magic. Some people may complain that the illusions will be spoiled if the magician's secrets are revealed. I really have no desire to have the tricks behind these illusions shared with me. I would just be thrilled to know how cow number 16 escapes from her stall at night.

Each of our 40 cows is tied in her stall with a chain. The chain has a hook on the end that is supposed to keep the cow tethered in her stall until you release the hook and let her loose.

Number 16 does a little escape act that would make Houdini proud. At night when all the people are gone from the barn, she sets herself free from her chain. For a while this was almost a nightly occurrence.

I debated putting a video camera down there at night to see just how she did it. Do you suppose they would want to use that footage on their magic show?

I can see it now. "Ladies and gentlemen! Caught on tape! The secret of how Bossy does her disappearing act."

That ought to bring people running to the TV in droves.

Tom put a new hook on the end of her chain. That would stop her nighttime wandering. We smiled smugly, knowing that Number 16 would be surprised when she tried to pull her little trick that night.

We were right. She didn't get loose. Not the first night at least. About a week later, though, we entered the barn one morning and found that she had somehow levitated herself out of her stall again.

She made manure appear from one end of the barn to the other. She made the calf feed in the tub on the end of the barn disappear. The hay bales that had been stacked along the walls for future use had been magically set free of their twine strings and tossed around the manger.

There she was now, standing at the far end of the barn looking at us. Would she go into her stall if I walked toward her? She decided to do another disappearing act and headed back down the manger.

As she passed in front of the other still-tied beasts I imagined her telling them, "And for my next act I will make myself disappear."

Jesy and I had her headed off, so she turned back toward her stall. I assumed she would saunter back into her stall with a final flourish of her tail now that one person was stationed on each end of the barn.

Instead she pulled another illusion out of her bag of tricks. That big bossy tried to make herself invisible by darting in between two other cows. It's a pretty good trick shoving two big cows into one stall, but we weren't about to applaud.

We got her backed out and returned to her own stall. I was wishing I could wave a magic wand or snap my fingers to make the mess she had conjured up disappear.

I did have one trick up my sleeve for our bovine escape artist. I whispered some magic words into her ear that will encourage her to stay in her stall at night.

The magic words? "I'll turn you into hamburger."

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