When I was twelve I stabbed a cow. I shoved a knife into its rotund gut on purpose and it was an act of kindness. I was not happy about stabbing a cow, it had never done anything to me besides look at me with its large cow eyes and occasionally say “moo.” I’d been roused at just before four o’clock in the morning by the school’s farmer. He was dashing through the dorm fetching all five of the students who worked under him. Apparently the cows had managed to find or make a break in the barbed wire fence and had moseyed from the alfalfa into the clover or from the clover into the alfalfa.  Even after half a century I’m not sure which it was, but you’ll have to excuse me, more pressing things were affot at the time. Mainly, the cows eating the clover –or the alfalfa had caused them to bloat up with gas, and stood a good chance of having their stomachs explode. As someone who, even as a child had experienced gaseous bloating and attendant cramps, I could imagine how the cow might feel if it had produced so much gas that it might literally explode like an over filled balloon.

So, still in pajamas but wearing boots, we were rushed out to the field, issues long filet knives and shown where to puncture the cows. I should point out here that the cows, bloated and in pain, had no intention of standing idly by while we jammed knives into them and so we had to use stealth and wile to get into position to impale the bovine. “Moo!” I said cheerily to one of the cows. It regarded me with wide eyed suspicion and stood ready to bolt. “Well,” I continued. “It sure is a pleasant night to be out in the clover. Or is this alfalfa?” The cow apparently wasn’t sure either because it didn’t offer to educate me as to which flora it has consumed. “So, I really enjoyed chatting with you the other morning. You remember me, I’m sure. I was the one who milked you.”

This was obviously the wrong thing to say because the cow lunged at me. I was bowled over by its audacity –and it’s twelve ton bulk. I picked myself up and followed the cow, which only ran about twenty steps before, being the tower of intellect cows are, it forgot everything that happened five seconds previous. I sidled toward the cow, not looking at it as I walked. It allowed me to get about a yard away and I acted as if I just noticed it. “Oh! Well look who it is. Bossie or Bessie isn’t it?” I stepped quickly up next to the cow, sighted the target spot and thrust the knife into the cow and pulled it back out. With a sound like a punctured tire, the most disgusting smell gushed out of the puncture wound, making the flaps of skin flutter and produce a very appropriate flatulent noise. The cow gave a moo that just reeked of relief and I, smelling the gaseous reek coming from the cows output, projectile vomited the remnants of my roast beef dinner.

The sense of adventure ended at that moment and I staggered a serpentine route towards the dirt road that led back to the cluster of buildings where my dorm was. Looking about, I noted that I was not the only one. In fact, all five of us student farmers were making retching noises and were retreating. We choked out words of reassurance to each other saying things like “I quit.” Or, “I hate cows.” The farmer merely hooted at our discomfort. Of course, of the eight cows in jeopardy, he had to puncture three to our one, but he did so with such quick professionalism and he had time to watch us students stumble through our assigned task of a single cow.

Apparently the stabbing of a cow doesn’t particularly hurt the animal, at least in these conditions. It does bring the cow a lot of relief and that must, I assume, countermand the discomfort of being shived by a nervous adolescent. We all returned to our dorm and managed to upset a number of our dorm mates by plowing into the showers in an effort to dispel the grotesque and emetic odor of the gaseous release. The smell stuck to our clothing and we all ended up throwing our soiled pajamas out the window, and act which failed to dispel the bad smells of the cows. It took a few days before the odor became undetectable in the dormitory. While we potential farmers all did mean to quit, the farm proved the only safe place for us to avoid the wrath of the wakened and scuz-bombed residents of the dorm.  Like all things in school life, the incident came and went, passing into history as the Night of the Really Gross Cow Smell.