April 2014
On the Edge of Common Sense

A Footlong Prolapse

It was a Colorado winter afternoon when the boys spotted a big crossbred cow wobblin’ along with her calf trailing behind and a prolapse as big as an army-issue duffle bag!

When they got closer, they could see the calf had sucked, but the prolapse looked a little worse for wear. Merle and Earl were a’horseback two miles from the corrals. The cow was domesticated, but certainly not tame! She was a range cow. They’re like K-Mart employees - you can’t actually walk up to one!

Using the time-tested Temple Grandin technique, they pushed her down the trail until she wore out and sort of collapsed. Our duo dismounted and eased up on the tired cow. Merle also carried a small medicine bag, primarily to treat calf scours. Earl walked up to drop a loop over the cow’s head.

"You won’t need that," said Merle, "There’s some of that obstacle tape, that and a shot of ‘anorexic’ medicine will put her to sleep."

Earl found a bottle with 5 cc of lidocaine left in it. He drew it into a syringe and handed it to Merle, who injected it directly into the prolapse. The boys knelt down and began trying to stuff the bulbous, slippery, inverted uterus back through the pelvic opening.

NOTE: This process has been compared to stuffing a smoked ham down a sink drain.

Four hands were thrusting, spelunking, grasping, groaning, winching, clinching … push one galoop in and another would pop out the other side! Through 20 minutes of heaving, breathing, scooting, slewing and trying to find something with your foot to push against, the monstrous appendage kept growling and snarling, fighting back with all its might! Merle had the best grip.

"Earl, pull off your boot and see if you can shove it in with your foot!" Merle said.

"What!?" Earl said.

"I read about it somewhere, it gives you more leverage!" Merle explained.

With a suspicious eye, Earl unbooted, lay back against a hummock, placed his sticky sock into the rubbery protuberance and pushed. "Slurp …" It disappeared before their eyes!

Merle took command. He rifled in the medicine box and found a bottle of umbilical tape and a needle.

"Keep pushin’ till I git’er stitched up!" Merle instructed.

Even though she was still straining some, the cow began to relax. So did Earl, twisted in up to the knee. Merle threaded the S-curved needle and plunged into the sensitive area.


The cow rose from the ground like a missile being fired from a Titan submarine! The movement put tremendous pressure on the anterior cruciate ligament in Earl’s knee joint. He didn’t even make the 8-second buzzer.

EPILOGUE: The prolapse stayed in, the calf was not fazed, it ended Earl’s potential soccer career and Merle lived to tell me the story!

Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.