A couple of years ago we had an older cow that came down with a suspected case of hardware. She was a cross between a Hereford and a Simmental. She was a large girl and at times was known to have attitude.
So, we rounded her up and put her in the squeeze to feed her the magnet.
My neighbour Andy - he's been around cows since "Christ was a cowboy" - was helping me.
She was a little tough to handle in the squeeze so I put my trusty rope around her horns so she couldn't swipe anyone with them while she "resisted" the procedure.
While she was unable to move her head from side to side, she was able to move it up and down.
Me being the bigger and stronger of the two legged animals trying to help this old witch - I decided to put my shoulder under her chin in order to straighten out her wind pipe and make it easier for Andy to insert the balling gun.
I get this girl stretched out and ... well, she's a bit upset with us. So Andy gets the gun way down inside her throat and ... well, Andy is somewhat vertically challenged and I am a bit over six feet. So he has to really reach for the plunger to set the magnet free on it's road to a new home.
Well, he can't quite reach the plunger with his thumb while he is holding it with his hand. So, he takes a little jump and hits the plunger with his other hand.
Pop! He knocked the whole thing - gun and magnet down her throat! This gun is a real nice and far too expensive piece of equipment to see go down into the stomach of an animal I am rapidly beginning to dislike.
The look on his face was priceless! Pure horror.
Be that as it may, I kept her stretched out while we discussed how we were going to retrieve the darned thing. Shoot her and butcher her? Nope she's got a decent calf in the field and I am finished with pail bunting.
Can we reach it? Andy goes and gets the step ladder. Maybe it's only down inside her mouth a bit. All this time he is apologizing profusely and swearing he has never done something this stupid before.
Ever try to force a cows mouth open so you can see down her throat? I'd appreciate you letting me know how it went if you tried it sometime and were successful.
The old girl is now making my life somewhat difficult because the knots I tied were not intended to last forever - just a couple of seconds - and she is starting to get a bit of sideways motion going.
Now Andy is starting to feel her throat to see if it has gone all the way down - that way I can at least let her head down. This was a metal gun and I was afraid she would damage her throat if it was part way down and she bent her neck.
Andy is now sweating profusely, his voice is a notch higher in pitch and I can see a bit of panic beginning to set in.
All the time I am telling him this is my prize cow and I am terribly worried.
Even though I was having a tough time with the old girl, I was beginning to get just a tiny bit of enjoyment out of his discomfort!
Then, as if she decided enough was enough, the cow spit it up. I heard it rattle on her teeth. Quick as a snake Andy drove his hand down the side of her mouth and retrieved the gun!
Moral of the story?
If you have to work at great heights with someone like Andy, make sure you tie a string to the gun!