Sunday, 22 July 2012

It could have killed my whole herd of cows

It happened one fine summer afternoon

Each cow that went through the gate stumbled onto their knees, scramble back onto their feet and panicked, and fled down to the far end of the yard.

It happened one fine summer afternoon, when I went to bring the cows in for milking, they all get strung out when the cows decide, as usual, to all walk single file over the foot bridge over the ford in the back lane. To make the job slower, some of them stop to rub an itch on their nose on the bridge side rails,


very few liked to walk through the ford itself because of the round cobbles stones in the bottom.
They turn into the farmyard off the lane between the farm house and the double cowshed where they would normally amble through the doors and find their own stalls.

 But on this one day each cow that went through the gate stumbled onto their knees, scramble back onto their feet and panicked and fled down to the far end of the yard. It affected some cows worse than others, and with them arriving all spread out in single file from around a corner it caught each one by surprise.
Not knowing what was happening way back at the rear of the herd I realise something was wrong when the last of the cows in front of me collapsed then scrambled with hooves slipping on the concrete and race off to the others standing startled in the far corner of the farm yard.

As I walked through the gate I too felt a tingle through my boots, a shock, a currant of electricity, my feet had boots on that part insulated me from what all the cows had just experienced, it was quite clear it was not going to be a normal pleasant afternoons milking.

We investigated what could be making the yard "live", but it came inconclusive, we turned all mains electric boxes to the off position, but still the yard was "live", so the Midlands Electricity Board (MEB) was called. It was a mystery to them at first, as they found nothing amiss on our premises. They started to follow the main wires out to the first pole out on the roadside, then up to the next farm, then to a group of cottages, at each stage they disconnected and re-connected to eliminate them as the cause of the leakage.
 The village school connection then another farm, then the blacksmiths shop, then on to the village pub. Here they found that electricity was being fed down the neutral wire for some reason and on down to our cowsheds and running to earth through our earth wires, which in turn was clipped to the underground water pipes leading from the house to the cowsheds.

 Once the pub was disconnected from the mains everything returned to normal, and we had the job of coaxing the cows back up the yard and into the shed to be tied up. We were some two or three hours late milking that day, and the cows had had time to clam down and stood chewing their cud wandering why they had not been milked.

On deeper investigation it turned out that the publican had just bought himself a new second hand cooker that he had wired in himself, and made the wrong connections when he installed it. I have no doubt that the MEB would have had a few sharp words to say to him, and the danger he had posed to other villagers and livestock.

Had the connection been made an hour or so later, when all the cows would have been tied in the shed by metal chains, to metal stalls, attached to metal water pipes, connected to all the water bowls, it could have killed the lot. It seems that as low as thirty or forty volts will kill a cow, where as us with wearing boot or wellingtons and we have the ability to run out of the sheds are more likely to have survived the situation.

I was surprised the following day to hear back from someone who was in the pub that night how the publican was laughing and bragging how he had nearly killed off a herd of cows when he turn on his cooker, fried beef and all that, but then I suppose it made a good talking point at the bar for quite a while, but it was no laughing matter at the time for us, it was before the time when earth trips were invented and became compulsory. Electricity is an invisible killer.

Faith is like electricity. You can't see it, but you can see the light.

Author Unknown

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