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Cow Tipping Truthers Say That the Lack of Video is Itself Evidence
September 4, 2013 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Another myth busted: Drunk young men do not, on any regular basis, sneak into cow pastures and put a hard shoulder into a cow taking a standing snooze, thus tipping the poor animal over.
posted by Copronymus (83 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The point of cow tipping is not that it exists. The point of cow tipping is that if we can convince young men with a tendency towards excess alcohol consumption that it does exist, then we get all sorts of amusing stories about young drunk men being chased by a thousand lbs of angry bovine, while slipping on the extrement that said creatures produce.

Yeesh. Shut up about whether or not cow tipping is impossible. That's not the point. The point is that every group of over-testosteroned young men with a tendency to sneak off into the pastures to consume beer should believe that it is possible.
posted by straw at 10:22 AM on September 4, 2013 [33 favorites]


"YouTube, the largest clearinghouse of human stupidity the world has ever known"
posted by Triplanetary at 10:23 AM on September 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


Well, if I were a bored young man and had a device that could shoot video and upload it to the internet, I'd probably preoccupy myself with the internet rather than harass animals. The real party of interest is the people without video to internet devices.

Oh wait, I am a bored young man, and I do amuse myself with the internet.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:23 AM on September 4, 2013


Wow. All this time I have been drunkenly climbing into fields, locating a cow, and leaving a handful of small change
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:24 AM on September 4, 2013 [124 favorites]


I'm opposed to cow tipping on principle, but if given especially good service, I'll usually leave a couple bucks on the table.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:26 AM on September 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


straw: "The point of cow tipping is that if we can convince young men with a tendency towards excess alcohol consumption that it does exist, then we get all sorts of amusing stories about young drunk men being chased by a thousand lbs of angry bovine, while slipping on the extrement that said creatures produce."

Or hearing the farmer rack his 12 gauge because the dogs are going apeshit at 2 in the morning.
posted by jquinby at 10:26 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


So cow tipping isn't real, but what about the worrying habit of cows to slowly encircle people who wander into their pasture at night?
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, yeah, cow tipping. Now make yourself useful and go change the spark plugs on the boss's diesel truck over there.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:29 AM on September 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


I grew up around several cattle ranches. Our elementary school shared a fence with one, and a kid in our class took over his father's cattle ranch, which is to say, he knew a lot about cows. Around age 7 he laughed off cow-tipping and showed us why: yes, cows are wary, and big, and you don't really want to get on their bad side.

On the other hand, this was the same group of kids who thought we could have fun with my brand-new hot pink parka by waving it at a bull on the other side of our playground fence. I waved it while my friends, cattle rancher's son included, egged on the bull. Eventually it got pissed off enough at us that it started snorting, pawing, and doing short rushes at the fence. We were thrilled at our derring-do and raw courage in the face of such a magnificent beast [behind a fence]. Recess came to an end, though, and we ran inside. We... didn't have a second recess, due to a mad bull having broken through the fence.

We shared looks, silently. And never did that again.

Closest we got to cow-tipping. Non-drunk elementary school kids. And I'm a girl. Boondocks represent.
posted by fraula at 10:29 AM on September 4, 2013 [55 favorites]


Cow tipping's actually not all that difficult; you just have to find the right venue.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:30 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why waste time with the cows when you should be inspecting their patties (post rain) for psilocybin shrooms?
posted by planetesimal at 10:32 AM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I grew up in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest.

I have gone cow-tipping.

So there. The act of "going cow-tipping" exists.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 10:37 AM on September 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


"'I think there’s probably as many cow tipping expeditions organized in various tap rooms as snipe hunts,' says Wilson. 'Some poor innocent has been hornswoggled into going out on a cow tipping expedition, I’m certain of that.'"

Tap rooms.

Snipe hunts.

Hornswoggled.

Honestly I just want an interview with dairy farmer Nate Wilson.
posted by griphus at 10:38 AM on September 4, 2013 [32 favorites]


Our elementary school shared a fence with one, and a kid in our class took over his father's cattle ranch, which is to say, he knew a lot about cows.

Like... he took over the ranch while he was in elementary school? If that's not what you meant, it's still what I choose to believe because in my head he's exactly like Jack Palance as Curly but in a 7-year-old's body.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


But... but... but... does this mean Tommy Boy lied to me?
posted by Green Winnebago at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2013


the worrying habit of cows to slowly encircle people who wander into their pasture at night

Under no circumstances are citizens to enter the cow park.
posted by elizardbits at 10:41 AM on September 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


Right up there with drop bears.
posted by echo target at 10:41 AM on September 4, 2013


And Lillie and Boechler’s calculations are based on an unmoving cow in equilibrium

I have found a new way to dismiss any economist I don't like. "Clearly, his calculations are based on an unmoving cow in equlibrium."
posted by Etrigan at 10:42 AM on September 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


I always like to tip a cow over after a snipe hunt.
posted by planetesimal at 10:42 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


A while ago, I mentioned cow-tipping to a friend of mine who grew up in the countryside. He says that as a teenager, he and his friends mentioned it to someone's dad or uncle or someone who was a farmer. He gave them a demonstration of how to take a cow down. It involved a headlock, a bunch of upper-body strength, and some cooperation from the cow.
posted by griphus at 10:47 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having never read Modern Farmer, that article was surprising witty and sharp.
posted by slogger at 10:50 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was with a group that went cow tipping - some of my burlier friends tried to tip a big dairy cow - she didn't budge - another cow let out a loud moo - we ran. So if you overlook the "successful" bit, I can tell you the effort to cow tip is very, very real.
posted by jalexei at 10:51 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was once young and drunk and convinced this was a real thing. My friends were as well, so we drove the 30 miles out of the city to hit up a farm and do some cow tipping only to realize they were all asleep laying down on the ground.

It was at that point, even in a drunken haze I realized this was basically a "snipe hunting" joke farmers tell city kids.
posted by mathowie at 10:57 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Oh shit, cow tipping is the fucking greatest! Punch it in!"
posted by Pistache at 10:58 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: All this time I have been drunkenly climbing into fields, locating a cow, and leaving a handful of small change

Atom Eyes: I'm opposed to cow tipping on principle, but if given especially good service, I'll usually leave a couple bucks on the table.

Now I know that looting a sleeping cow can be lucrative, like robbing from hibernating bears.
Every fall before he goes to sleep a bear will put away five or six
hundred dollars. Money he got from garbage cans, mostly. Peo-
ple throw away thousands of dollars every day, and around here
a lot of it goes to bears. But what good is money to a bear? I
mean, how many places are there that a bear can spend it? It's a
good idea to first locate the bear's den, in fall after the leaves are
down. Back on one of the old logging roads you'll find a tall pine
or spruce covered with scratch marks, the bear runes, which
translate to something like "Keep out. That means you!" You can
rest assured that the bear and his money are nearby, in a cave or
in a space dug out under some big tree roots. When you return
in winter, a long hike on snowshoes, the bear will be sound
asleep. ... In a month or two he'll wake, groggy, out of sorts,
ready to bite something, ready to rip something to shreds ... but
by then you'll be long gone, back in town, spending like a
drunken sailor.
Poem: "The Bear's Money" by Louis Jenkins from The Winter Road: Prose Poems by Louis Jenkins. © Holy Cow! Press.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:02 AM on September 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't know how it was where you grew up, but "cow tipping" was our pre-agreed upon explanation of why we were in a farm field at that hour of the night; if the owner or police had us at gunpoint.

"Finding and harvesting Liberty Caps" is frowned upon in my hometown/country.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:06 AM on September 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


Hi! I wrote this piece (though, of course, did not sub it to MeFi), and just wanted to jump in with my shared love of farmer Nate Wilson. He actually sent me an email before I got him on the phone, and that email maybe the best thing I've gotten in 2013. I'm pasting it below, with Nate's kind permission:

Sitting here this a.m. without any pressing task, I got to thinking I would get my thoughts on the "cow-tipping" phenomena off to you. I am a retired dairy farmer of forty years experience with my own cows on a small conventional farm in the hills of southwestern New York's beautiful Chautauqua County and a life long, (66 yrs.) observer of this most useful and under celebrated of God's creatures. As such, I think I should be considered, at least somewhat qualified to speak on the subject.

I would open by telling you quite frankly to be highly suspect of anyone that tells you they have accomplished a successful "cow-tipping" as they will almost certainly lie to you about more important things, as well. I am most comfortable stating unequivocally that "cow-tipping" is naught but a classic urban legend, promoted largely by juvenile minded, immature, inebriated young adult males attempting to embellish resumes otherwise lacking in noteworthy personal accomplishment. Kindly allow me to make my case:

From a lifetime of observation of cows, both stabled and at pasture, in all hours of the day and night, in all seasons, healthy cows very seldom allow themselves the luxury of the phenomena that humans recognize as "sleep." Keep in mind that cows have only been domesticated for a brief three or four thousand years of their evolutionary development. Throughout their evolution cows have been a prey species, subject to being "Beef. Its what's for dinner... " long before Sam Elliott lent his eloquent voice to the notion. All along their evolutionary march, cows have adapted themselves to the reality of being seen as a regular menu item for all manner of nasty, strong, fast, stealthy, well armed and adapted carnivores. To counter those bad bastards, cows had to develop any and every scrap of natural advantage. Of particular note, successful cows developed acute senses of smell and hearing and coupled this with an ability to rise from a prone position with incredible speed and sure footedness. This will be witnessed to by any one familiar with cows that has ever attempted approaching them in the hours of darkness; such an attempt will always be met by a fully aware herd, on their feet, snorting and sniffing in the darkness. The very survival of the species has been absolutely dependant on a cow's ability to be completely aware of her surroundings and her ability to meet and counter any and all threats.

This cow-tipping nonsense has risen, partially, on the flawed notion, by those ignorant of such things, that cows "sleep" standing, like horses, who have adapted this ability. Cows have no physical ability to "lock" their leg joints as horses do. Likewise, anyone who makes the claim that cows cannot lay down and rise at will is betraying their complete ignorance of cows: cows lay down and rise numerous times, each and every day. If they did not have this ability, why would dairy farmers spend tens of millions of dollars on cow mattress's each and every year?

Perhaps, another contributing factor in this nonsense is confusion arising from a legitimate veterinary technique known as "casting" a cow. This is facilitated with a considerable length of stout rope deployed in a precise and very complex pattern over a cow's anatomy by someone knowledgeable in the technique; then by pulling on the two opposite ends of the rope, a cow can be taken from a standing position to being placed on her back, usually to facilitate a surgical procedure. It is my settled opinion that casting is a complex, time consuming endeavor well beyond the ambition and skill-set of the typical inebriated college undergraduate...

I hope my homely thoughts have brought some much needed clarity to this idiotic nonsense.

Sincerely,
Nate Wilson

posted by Peemster at 11:08 AM on September 4, 2013 [201 favorites]


Ain't nobody goin' cow-tipping without a left-handed wrench.
posted by GuyZero at 11:09 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


cow mattress

I'll admit my ignorance of dairy farming, and for a moment I thought the esteemed Mr. Wilson might have thrown that in as a kind of meta-joke. But no: cow mattresses.
posted by jedicus at 11:16 AM on September 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


Lots of things are settled via YouTube.
posted by MrGuilt at 11:17 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


dairy farmers spend tens of millions of dollars on cow mattress

Huh.
posted by yoink at 11:24 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Next you'll tell me that the t'irty point buck doesn't exist.
posted by symbioid at 11:31 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


When we first moved to the Midwest, some of my wife's coworkers told her about cow tipping. It took YEARS for me to convince her that it is not a real thing.
posted by miyabo at 11:33 AM on September 4, 2013


I used to have a "cat" (he looked so much like these guys that no one is fully convinced he even was a cat) that used to "cow-nip." That is, he'd run around the cow pens, biting the ankles of all the cows until they were stomping mad, then hopping (he didn't run; he hopped) away, no doubt maniacally kittygiggling to himself. He did this for fun. It was pretty evil, but also pretty harmless and hilarious and adorable in a kind of slightly twisted way.

Those cows will totally kick you if you are small and white and furry, now. Our yeti friends' kids aren't allowed over anymore.
posted by byanyothername at 11:35 AM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: A time-consuming endeavor well beyond the ambition and skill-set of the typical inebriated college undergraduate.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:36 AM on September 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


I recall seeing it in the 1988 documentary Heathers.
posted by user92371 at 11:53 AM on September 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't recommend cow tippling. Those heifers can drink you under the stable.
posted by zippy at 11:57 AM on September 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


I accept the physics argument, but on the YouTube argument: why is there a lack of videos on YouTube of people making all those crop circles?

[adjusts tinfoil hat...]
posted by sixohsix at 11:57 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, cow tipping. Not a thing. I grew up and still reside in a very rural area with a huge dairy-farming population. I'd never heard of cow tipping until I went elsewhere for college and met city folks. My considered opinion at the time I first heard of it (and for the entire period of my life after I heard of it) was that this thing was invented by people who had never met an actual cow.

Cow tipping, to me, sounded like a good way to get shot at (because you're trespassing on someone else's farm because if it was your farm and they were your cows, you would know straight off that cow tipping was a damnfool made up bunch of nonsense and would have declined to participate once you stopped laughing at the very idea) or stompled (because clearly you are not very clever, having been suckered into this exceedingly questionable activity and so you also selected the angus farm down the road -- the one with the angus bull in the field) or (best-case scenario), wet (dew), cold (late at night, plus also wet), and wearing newly-anointed shit stompers.
posted by which_chick at 11:59 AM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Stompled is my new favorite word.
posted by jeribus at 12:05 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I grew up in a fairly rural place, near a state university with an active agricultural studies program, complete with a barn with cows and pigs and chickens and sheep and such on the premises. And yep, when I was in high school some people talked about how cow tipping was Totally A Thing.

I think I just didn't question it because it was a boring enough community that I could see people getting just drunk enough to actually try.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:08 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know how it was where you grew up, but "cow tipping" was our pre-agreed upon explanation of why we were in a farm field at that hour of the night; if the owner or police had us at gunpoint.

The best I could figure from my rural youth is that "cow tipping" was code for all-boys drinking and smoking out in the field. It certainly didn't sound like anything more interesting than that.

Tap rooms.

The local bar in the town where we lived when I was about 3-6 had a big "TAP ROOM" sign on it. Dad had me convinced that's where he went to go tap dancing at night.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:09 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


that I could see people getting just drunk enough to actually try

And therein, my friend, lies the great truth (that and the whole part where a cow standing is pretty much guaranteed to be a cow awake, i.e. the part that tripped us up...)
posted by jalexei at 12:12 PM on September 4, 2013


As a drunk young man early in my freshman year of college in midwest farm country, we thought we'd try cow tipping.

1. It wasn't a cow - or more specifically it was the subcategory of cow known as bull.
2. It wasn't asleep.
3. It wasn't happy that we were in its field.
4. One of my co-conspirators got a nasty cut on his leg trying to jump over the barbed wire fence as we escaped.

Also the article isn't completely correct about horses. Horses can sleep standing up. However, if they feel secure in their surroundings they will stretch out on the ground like a Labrador taking a nap in the sun.
posted by COD at 12:38 PM on September 4, 2013


Ye gods. If we had ever come across actual cows any of the times we went cow tipping I honestly don't know what we would have done.
Likely staggered off in the other direction.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:42 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows cow-tipping is a myth. Sheesh. Who'd risk going into a paddock full of cows at night and having the aliens harvest their organs by mistake?
posted by yoink at 12:54 PM on September 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Does Nate Wilson have a newsletter? I would like to subscribe to it.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:01 PM on September 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


Everyone knows cow-tipping is a myth.

yes, it's merely exaggerated stories of chicken tipping that have created this rural legend

some braver souls have tried to work their way up to geese - once
posted by pyramid termite at 1:46 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brahmin tipping.
posted by ersatz at 2:24 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


But... but... but... does this mean Tommy Boy lied to me?

You can't rip the door off a 67 Belvedere like that either; serious damage to the body where the door attaches at the front will result before the hinges give.

He gave them a demonstration of how to take a cow down. It involved a headlock, a bunch of upper-body strength, and some cooperation from the cow.

Steer Wrestling.
posted by Mitheral at 2:28 PM on September 4, 2013


We were at a bar. One of my friends suggested that we go cow tipping. I replied by saying, "You know were here to meet girls, right? How are you going to do that in a dark field with your shoes covered in shit?"

That was the end of talk about cow tipping silliness.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:01 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


It wasn't a cow - or more specifically it was the subcategory of cow known as bull.

I can only believe there is some type of surgical (or reverse surgical) procedure that makes this sentence possible.
posted by HuronBob at 3:16 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the Nate Wilson letter. I would love him to meet up with Cornelius Bear.
posted by aesop at 4:44 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cow tipping was one of those much discussed and joked about things that never actually seemed to happen. We were discussing it with my Mom once. She said "We never went cow tipping, but we did go Turkey Gobbling."

Turkey Gobbling was where you and a group of your rowdy inebriated friends from The University of Iowa would drive out to the nearest turkey farm at 2 AM and yell "GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE" out the window, awakening thousands of turkeys who would then raise an unholy godawful turkey racket. You would then drive away laughing your fool asses off, well before anyone could come out and shoot you.


It was much more successful than cow tipping.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:29 PM on September 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


In college, I lived for a summer on a beautiful farm in Western Maryland that had a small herd of cows. While drunk one night, some friends and I decided to see if we could tip one. We'd all heard of it, none of us particularly believed it, but we drank a lot of tequila...

Contrary to what Mr. Wilson says, if you are a hunter and have a basic grasp of "upwind" you can very easily walk right up to a small group of cows on a dark night. We walked right up to one easily, we were maybe 20' away from one, and we could have easily ran and knocked into it very hard. But instead we just stood there looking at each other.

The thing is, cows are huge. Even while drunk as monkeys, once we were there next to the cow it was obvious that there was no way in hell even the biggest of us could dream of running into it hard enough to move it very much at all, much less tip it over. So we just walked back down the hill to the house and resumed drinking.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 6:35 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Foam Cow Mattress System Comfort Advantage



.....



well then.







what is a foam cow
posted by louche mustachio at 7:12 PM on September 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Dispite what this so-called expert maintains, cow tipping is actually possible and quite easy to do if you know what you're doing.

Cow tipping's actually not all that difficult; you just have to find the right venue.
posted by Greg_Ace


As Greg Ace indicates cow tipping occurs in extremely steep and mountainous areas of the world. As a rule, college students are too lazy to haul their drunken asses up a steep hill for the pleasure of tipping a cow and very few are familiar with the technique.

Please note that the cattle in the picture Greg has linked to are a special breed of animals, hardy and thus able to subsist on minimal forage in difficult weather, with a unique physical characteristic bred into them for life in the mountains--the legs on one side are shorter than on the other! These animals are unfitted for life on the flat, and spend their time contentedly grazing round and round the mountain side. Although a cruel practice, it is possible to easily tip these cows, indeed, they almost tip over by themselves, provided one turns them around on the mountain.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:13 PM on September 4, 2013


Where I live, we are rumored to tip cows, but nobody here will claim to have done so. I have known two non-locals who claimed to tip cows, but I always figured that was bullshit. We do have cow-tipping merchandise for sale, though, which I definitely own and occasionally buy for others.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:20 PM on September 4, 2013


Clearly the urban idiots, er, people who believed that cow tipping is a thing have never seen an honest to god cattle stampede. I accidentally ended up in the middle of one, thanks to one very stupid calf, so I have a great deal of respect for cows and exactly zero desire to tip them over. Ever.
posted by librarylis at 9:50 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first roommate in college used to brag that she and her friends went out cow tipping every weekend. The sheer idiocy of the notion never failed to crack me up.

See, I lived next door to a dairy farm in Germany for a year and a half. I loved my neighbor's cows, and they mostly liked me, too. Yes, I would occasionally annoy them with ear scritchinz and cooing over them like oversized puppies (I was16, FFS!), but I had huge respect for them, too. Especially after watching a pissed off cow chase down a drunken neighbor kid and damn near kill him.

You don't tip cows without knocking them over with a truck. And even then, you're stupid, because an angry cow is a FAST cow.
posted by MissySedai at 10:16 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tipped several cows before the first time I ever got drunk.

This used to actually happen.

You find yourself in the moonless dark with your cheek pressed against the side of the cow and your hands grabbing their far-side legs. It's black, the cow is black, it's surprised, you're an asshole, but you're a little kid asshole, later to become a sensitive guilty boy whose experience of transgression has tripled in this cow-tipping world-changing moment and you haven't even begun to process how your casual adolescent cow-tipping will determine your future and you are a degenerate cow-tipper and all is ruined. And then you get drunk for the first time and almost get burned up with gasoline for the first time.

This almost happened. There was also a cute girl with an artificial limb. Sorry, cows. Sorry, memory of cows and girls and guilt.

But it happens. It sure does happen.
posted by mississippi at 10:38 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also went to a school near a field of cows. While traipsing around the field at night having sampled some of Queensland's finest herbal produce and looking for goldtops (which were indeed present in abundance), we established pretty quickly that these cows were very alert and had no desire to be tipped over.

Having said that - being suburban kids, we were quite prepared to believe it was possible until we'd tried it.
posted by illongruci at 1:30 AM on September 5, 2013


Having never read Modern Farmer, that article was surprising witty and sharp.

"Latest: Issue 01
Spring 2013

The debut issue of Modern Farmer tackles monsoon season in India, the rise of organic farming in China, how wild boars may take over the world, and a deep look at the current state of humane slaughter."

It's ... pretty modern. And based in Queens rather than, say, Des Moines. And the contributors are basically a who's who of current online journalism, fully Twittered and Reddited.

And you gotta love that this is under the quite well-populated, thank you, tag of farm crime.
posted by dhartung at 3:22 AM on September 5, 2013


I used to have a "cat" (he looked so much like these guys that no one is fully convinced he even was a cat) that used to "cow-nip." That is, he'd run around the cow pens, biting the ankles of all the cows until they were stomping mad, then hopping (he didn't run; he hopped) away, no doubt maniacally kittygiggling to himself. He did this for fun. It was pretty evil, but also pretty harmless and hilarious and adorable in a kind of slightly twisted way.

I suspect that cats have a sense of humour that derives from the mental toolbox of a mostly solitary predator (modelling just enough of the mental state of another animal to get an advantage over it, and getting a hit of reward neurochemicals from besting it). I knew a cat once which would deliberately set out to trip over people by running in front of them, presumably getting the same satisfaction from having thrown the lumbering food-ape off balance with sheer feline guile.
posted by acb at 4:43 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


In the UK we have a far worse problem.
posted by Decani at 4:46 AM on September 5, 2013


The best I could figure from my rural youth is that "cow tipping" was code for all-boys drinking and smoking out in the field. It certainly didn't sound like anything more interesting than that.

Apparently cowshit and getting high go back a long way; there have been rumours of Midwestern hippies who had developed a tolerance to marijuana spiking their joints with cow manure (some say the term “shithead” gained currency there).
posted by acb at 5:28 AM on September 5, 2013


Having grown up with lots of cattle of both the beef and dairy varieties, it was always amazing to me that anyone believed in cow-tipping. Only someone who'd never been around cattle could believe in it.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:49 AM on September 5, 2013


Interestingly, "equine tripping" apparently was a big enough deal here in AZ to make a law against it:

A.R.S. § 13-2910.09:

A. A person who knowingly or intentionally trips an equine for entertainment or sport is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

. . . .

F. For the purposes of this section:
1. “Equine” means a horse, pony, mule, donkey or hinny.
2. “Trips” means knowingly or intentionally causing an equine to lose its balance or fall by use of a wire, pole, stick or rope or any other object or by any other means.
posted by diocletian at 10:32 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


what is a foam cow

Just as the mechanical bull is a simulacrum of bucking male bovine fury, so too is a milk steamer a hot spitting chrome analog of the foam cow.
posted by zippy at 10:50 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually, cow tipping would work if you assume a spherical cow.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:08 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was thinking along the same lines, but came to the opposite conclusion! You can't tip a Buick sphere.
posted by zippy at 12:47 PM on September 5, 2013


See, I think that depends on your definition of "tip": a spherical cow could be pushed into a position such that its head was upside down or sideways, yes? I would say that, to the layman, that sufficiently constitutes "tipping".

Kind of like how the Mythbusters tested a myth about certain pesticides causing pants to "explode" and instead finding that what happened was that they would very suddenly and quickly catch fire, and Grant suggested that the layman would describe that as saying that their pants "exploded." Technically a sperhical cow would be "rolled", but for the layman I can see them calling that "tipping."


....Yes, it is kind of slow at work today, why do you ask?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:03 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why take a target cow tipping when you can lead them on a snipe hunt? The cow tipping expedition puts both you and the sucker in the field with the cow. That's no good. With snipe hunting you can assign your mark a location and then promise to beat the snipe toward them. "Hold your laundry bag wide open. We'll beat the snipe right to you. Once you've got one in the bag, close it quickly."
posted by Area Man at 1:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


And you gotta love that this is under the quite well-populated, thank you, tag of farm crime.

Wait, you can just go and *buy* a real milk crate (without the milk)? Hrmmmm...
posted by smidgen at 10:41 AM on September 6, 2013


I tipped plenty of cows when I was in high school. Just ask my Canadian girlfriend.
posted by Knappster at 11:09 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


diocletian: Initially, I thought that the AZ law against "equine tripping" had something to do with the questionable way filmmakers would simulate a shot horse in old westerns, but apparently it's a rodeo event.
posted by StopMakingSense at 11:16 AM on September 6, 2013


planetesimal: "I always like to tip a cow over after a snipe hunt."

I tip over snipes before a cow hunt...
posted by Samizdata at 2:24 PM on September 6, 2013


I, too, was Googling this cow mattress phenomenon, and I'll do you one better: I found cow waterbeds. Also on HuffPo.

*still feels like all the farmers are laughing at our gullibility*
posted by IndigoRain at 11:32 PM on September 6, 2013


<story>

UC Santa Cruz sits on a hill above the city with several large active pastures in front of it. There are no cow tipping stories told at UCSC but there are other kinds of cow encounters that range from getting stoned with them to more violent run-ins. It was my pleasure to witness one of the more violent types.

Going down through the main pasture is a shared use pedestrian/bicycle trail. And when I say "shared use" I mean "pedestrians better be quick on their feet because the riders coming downhill will not be slowing down for them."

So I was walking down one bright afternoon and coming around a bit of a blind corner I found a group of cows grazing in front of me, one of them standing completely across the trail. And then just behind me I heard the distinct sound of a bicyclist coming downhill at 25mph in a 10mph zone.

And so the bicycle came whizzing around the corner and the rider saw what was coming and bailed off the back and the riderless road bike slammed into the side of a grazing heifer. And then, after a slight pause, the cow turned her head and looked at us for a few seconds.

And that was all there was to it. On the human side the bike was a mess and the rider was more than a little shaken, and the cow . . . . noticed.

Apparently this happened a few times a year and was one of the reasons for the bicycle speed limit, but the limit was there for the protection of the humans: The people who brought the herds in to graze didn't consider it an issue.

And I don't blame them. I don't know what would have phased that cow but whatever it was certainly wasn't coming down the bike path.

</story>
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:36 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have not gone looking for the cow tipping videos on YouTube that bust the busted myth because cow tipping is a sneaky night thing done by stealth by awake, nondrunk, totally serious rural teens, and you can't have a giggling iPhone documentarian riling the cows if you want to be successful.

The secret is grasping the outside legs before the push.

I did it once, long before YouTube, and it's easy if you're schooled by farm kids who know how to sneak up on their own cows. The same kids for whom "campfire" means a bale of hay and a can of gasoline.

Grab the outside legs and push up, not so much over, with your face pressed against the cow's lower side. The cow gets surprised and falls over.

It's the middle of the night, and you're focused, so no YouTube videos.

It's not addictive. Once is enough. Cow tipping is not like fishing or hunting or demolition derby. But it exists and it's easy.
posted by mississippi at 5:20 AM on September 7, 2013


One small data point, if you think that sleepy cow that is laying down in the sun will be slow to get up and chase you, haha, just don't get it upset.

(Cows are most even tempered for the most part, I never worried too much, but there was one heffer that just hated my mom for some reason and would chase her out of the field)
posted by sammyo at 6:51 AM on September 8, 2013


I'm always amazed at the extent to which a cow will hold a grudge.
posted by cookie-k at 10:37 AM on September 9, 2013


To be fair, if someone grabbed you with cold hands early in the morning day after day, wouldn't you be a bit testy?
posted by BlueHorse at 12:32 PM on September 9, 2013


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