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On the Edge of Common Sense: A cowful

Baxter Black for Progressive Dairy Published on 19 January 2021

Grandpa Tommy’s dad used to say, “A cowful is a substantial quantity.” According to my research, the rumen of a mature cow can hold up to 300 pounds. And, by anybody’s standards, that is quite a bit.

Say you had a cowful of pocket change. You’d almost need a cow to keep it in. Say you had a cowful of wet laundry. It would take a forklift to get it in the dryer. Say you had a cowful of manure. Well, I guess a lot of us do.

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If cowful became an accepted unit of measure, it could replace antiquated English standards like dram and rod and those bland, simple-minded metric names that somehow sound communistic: kiloliter, hectometer, decigram. Can you picture in your mind a decigram? Is it the weight of a decimated graham cracker or ten grandmas standin’ on the scale?

Under the cowful system, 15 scoopfuls would equal a cowful. Two bootfuls would make a scoopful, two hatfuls would make a bootful. Half a hatful would equal a capful. Six canfuls, as in beer cans, makes a capful. One canful equals 40 thimblefuls, 20 teardrops in a thimbleful.

The dosage for penicillin would read: four teardrops per five scoopfuls of bodyweight, intramuscular.

For blackleg four-way vaccination: one thimbleful subcutaneous. Repeat in 60 days.

Bizarre, you say. If cowful was a measure of weight or volume, possibly the distance between postholes would become the standard unit of measure for length, i.e., 660 postholes per section line – four thumbs to a hand, three hands to a foot, four feet to a coyote length and two coyote lengths to a posthole.

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Decibels of loudness would be described in more understandable terms, from chicken peck to pig squeal for everyday sounds. Loud noises would be categorized as small wreck, big wreck and heck’uva wreck.

“So, did you hear about Orbin gettin’ bucked off? Musta sailed five coyote lengths, hit the side of the grain bin with a moose bugle and two cowfuls of pellets fell on him. Smashed him flatter’n a rabbit ear.

“They got him to the doc in half a coon’s age, transfused him with a six pack of type O negative and removed a posthole of intestine. He’s doin’ OK, but he’s lost about six hatfuls.

“He’s been a sheep’s gestation recovering. Doc says it’s shock, but I figger it just scared a pea waddin’ and a half out of him. Well, I gotta go. I’ve got an appointment in four-and-a-half shakes of a lamb’s tail.” end mark

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