Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You Cannot Tip a Cow

For years, I have been listening to people perpetuate the urban legend of "cow tipping."  Where the idea originated is anybody's guess, but it probably began as a way for city and suburban kids to mock and ridicule country kids.  The basic idea would have been that there is nothing to do "out in the sticks," so rural teens spend their weekend nights, driving around drinking, and then they head out to the fields to "tip cows" for fun.

The stated premise - or reason that this can allegedly be done - is cows are incredibly stupid and top heavy and they sleep standing up.  So, in theory, a few people can "sneak up" on the cow and tip it over.  However, there are numerous flaws to this "theory," and I've spent countless conversations try to convince people otherwise.  Having grown up near rural areas, and knowing numerous people who own cattle, I can unequivocally assert that "You cannot tip a cow."

Of course, people amazingly argue this to ridiculous ends.  It's most often my students - who have heard that I say it can't be done.  Inevitably, they ask about it, and then at least one kid will claim to either have done it, or to know someone who has.  Often they swear it can be done because their father has done it, and has told them about it.  And, sadly, I have to tell the kids, "No offense to your father - I'm sure he's a great guy.  But he's lying to you."  Occasionally the stories start to shift a bit - and kids will say "it was a baby cow."  But again.  They've been lied to.

You cannot tip a cow.  Here's why:

  • Cows weigh 1,000+ pounds.  Get that?  1,000 - 1,500 pounds.  They're half a ton.  No one - and I mean no one - is just tipping that over.
  • Cows don't sleep standing up, and they are incredibly light sleepers.  No one is just sneaking up on a sleeping cow and tipping it over.  They might "doze" or "nap" while standing, but they don't sleep that way.
  • Cows are incredibly skittish and afraid.  And, if you are not the cow's owner or caregiver, you are not getting anywhere near that cow.  And if you could and started pushing on it, it would move.  Quickly.  Or it might just kick the shit out of you.  Ask someone who's been kicked while milking one.
  • They weigh 1,000 pounds.  Did I mention that yet?

So, even if you could get near them, they wouldn't just let you tip them.  And even if you got them to hold still and brought an NFL defensive line up to push on them, they are not so top heavy that they are going to fall over.  And regardless, no one is talking about those conditions.  People are continuing the myth that drunk teens can sneak up on a cow and tip it over.  But they can't.

I usually end conversations by encouraging them to find proof, and I urge them to check it out on YouTube.  If it could be done, there would certainly be evidence.  But there's not.

So, feel free to prove me wrong.  But you'd look like a fool trying to do so.  Because you cannot tip a cow.


Ken from London said...

Hi Mike,
Yes, having grown up on a farm near the same midwestern town as yourself I always have a good laugh when I hear this urban myth. And the funny part is the otherwise sensible people who actually believe it!

mmazenko said...

Thanks, Ken. It's amazing how adamant people are - especially when they've never done it or actually seen it done.