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Snipes, cow tipping and cousin Ollie combine for crazy danger

Burt's Eye View

We’d only been up the tree for 20 minutes that spring day decades ago, but with the bull snorting beneath us, it already felt like 20 hours.

“When do you think he’ll get bored and go away?” I asked cousin Ollie, who lounged on the next limb over.

Ollie studied the monstrous creature pacing around our oak perch. “I dunno. He still looks sore. Jimmy shouldn’t have bumped into him like that.”

From a few limbs above us, our out-of-town cousin Jimmy wailed, “Ollie said he’d teach me how to tip a cow. I didn’t know it was a bull.”

I peered up through the leaves. “How can you not know the difference between a cow and bull?”

“It doesn’t have horns, so it’s a cow, right?”

“City kids,” I muttered.

“Yeah, pretty silly,” Ollie snickered.

I glared at Ollie. “Cow tipping? Who did you think would fall for that nonsense?”

Ollie pointed up at Jimmy and grinned.

Jimmy almost stopped hugging the tree to shake his fists, but the bull bellowed. Jimmy wrapped himself more tightly around the trunk and just shook. “Cow tipping is real. I saw it on the cartoons,” he quivered. “When they fall asleep, you sneak up and push them over. Ollie said so.”

I sighed. “You believed the same Ollie who took you on a snipe hunt?”

“I almost caught one in my pillow case,” Jimmy said. “Then Ollie remembered we didn’t have a snipe hunting license, so I had to let it go.”

His back against the tree, Ollie stifled giggles. “It was a skunk. Can you imagine if I gave Ma a bagged a skunk? She didn’t even know we took her pillow cases into the woods.”

I groaned. “Ollie, you’re mean.”

I tried to look Jimmy in the eye, but his were squished shut. “Look, kid, it’s time that you learned the facts of life. There’s no such thing as a snipe. Both cows and bulls grow horns, but most farmers dehorn their cattle. Cows sleep lying down, not standing up. And how do you think an 80-pound kid can move a 1,500-pound cow that doesn’t want to.”

Ollie chuckled. “That’s why Jimmy bounced right off the side of beef down there when he tried to ram Tank.”

I dangled my legs from my perch. “Speaking of Tank, how are we supposed to climb out the tree and escape the pasture with him stamping around?”

Ollie scratched his ear. “We could throw Jimmy down to Tank, then run like crazy.”

“Hey!” Jimmy yelled.

“Kidding.” Ollie stretched and yawned. He rolled off his branch and started to shimmy down the tree.

“Are you crazy?” I hollered. “Tank’s still down there.”

“I know.” Ollie dropped onto Tank’s back. “You’d think a farm kid like you would know the difference between a bull and a steer.”

“It’s rude to look.”

Ollie scratched the steer behind the ears. “I raised Tank from a calf. Chase is one of our favorite games.”

Ollie and Tank bounded away.

“Next time,” I said, “I’m visiting you in the city. It’s safer.”

“Because we don’t have cows, bulls and steers?”

“Because you don’t have snipes, tipping and Ollie,” I said as we picked our way down the tree. “C’mon, let’s go to the pond and catch some frogs. Ollie told me if we train the peepers and burpers to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,’ we’ll make lots of money with the circus.”

“Cool,” Jimmy said. “Sounds real to me.”

— Spin tall tales with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at www.burtonwcole.com.

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