I’ve had about 5 real pedicures in my lifetime. Maybe 6?
But when I was a kid my daddy was a “Bovine Pedicurist.”
Process that for a minute, will ya?
Bovine = Cow
Pedicure = Gettin’ yer feet cleaned up a bit
Bovine Pedicurist = Dairy Cow Hoof Trimmer = My Dad made his career out of trimming cow hooves (and manufacturing their hoof-trimming equipment).
My two brothers are currently self-employed hoof trimmers.
It’s the life. I am not joking.
YOU ARE ABOUT TO LEARN SOMETHING YOU NEVER KNEW YOU NEVER KNEW…
I have found that whenever I start to talk about my hoof trimming family, minds get blown.
Prepare for that.
How My Family Got into Hoof Trimming
My mom’s dad was a hoof trimmer first. I’m not sure who taught him the trade. Grandpa taught his only daughter’s young side-burn wearing husband (my dad) how to trim cow hooves when he was 22.
Why do Cows Need their Hooves Trimmed?
Cows need hoof trimmers because they their hooves grow just like our nails do. Back in the “olden” days, dairy cows used to spend a lot of time “out to pasture”, which naturally kept their hooves worn down.”Nowadays”, the cows are fed some sorts of stimulants that encourage them to produce more milk. This also causes an increase in their hoof growth.
I just said “hoof growth”.
If their hooves aren’t trimmed at certain intervals, the cows will “go lame”, which halts milk production. Right? Got Milk? Hence the need for Hoof Trimmers. Dairies can trim their own cow hooves if they have the equipment and a trained trimmer on staff. Most dairies hire a trimmer to come out to the dairy at regular intervals to service the cows and maintain healthy feet.
How do Hoof Trimmers Get the Job Done?
Hoof Trimmers use fancy equipment to handle the cows. The objective is to keep the stress level low and be as gentle as possible with the cows. Like, instead of tackling the cows and wielding big nail clippers whilst wrestling in the manure, the best hoof trimmers use “chutes” that look like this:
Mrs. Cow comes in the back, gets strapped into the chute, is raised up to a decent working-height for the trimmer, gets her mani/pedi, is lowered back down, then the front releases and she walks out. Her friend follows her through the chute for her own mani/pedi. This is often followed by iced coffee and the daily gossip.
A hoof trimmer gets paid per cow. The faster he works, the bigger paycheck he can pull in per day. Some hoof trimming chutes are much less fancy. Some even operate by strapping the cow on her side and tilting her onto a table. Cows don’t like that. Mad cows make sour milk. (They probably don’t, but that seems logical.)
Trimmers typically use a “chipper wheel” to grind down the cow hooves to healthy levels. Sometimes they treat warts with medicine and special foot wraps. Wrap that wart, Brother!
Cows poop all day. Whenever they feel like it. Poopy poop.
Farmers call it “sh!t”. They really do.
If I ever caught my dad calling it that word I got so dern mad at him and would start to cry. I thought he would go to Hell.
Sorry about the drama, Dad. Call it what it is. Everything is going to be okay in the end and I am praying for you.
Manure stinks. And it sticks to your “work clothes” and rubber boots. These work clothes require their own washer and dryer.
Socially-conscious children of hoof trimmers despise the smell of manure. It embarases them that the shoe closet may or may not smell like manure ALL THE TIME.
Then again… manure smells like Daddy. Daddy is nice and buys ice cream!
Apparently, children of hoof trimmers end up with cozy nostalgic feelings toward the smell of cow poop. What? (sigh)
Hoof trimmers pull their chutes behind a truck from farm to farm. They wash the chute off every day after work so as to not share manure between dairies. Hoof trimmer’s children beg their fathers not to pick them up from school with the chute behind the truck. People ask questions. Questions that kids don’t want to answer. (See above mentioning of minds being blown.)
I thought you should know this before you got too excited about signing up for a Hoof Trimming school. (Those really exist.)
Super Fancy Hoof Trimming Chutes via My Dad
My dad had an inventor-type friend when he began trimming who manufactured hoof trimming chutes. That guy modified the standard chute design by adding hydraulic power to the levers and pullies.
I just said “levers and pullies” but I really don’t know what I am talking about.”Hydraulics” is the special point.
When my dad moved our family to Wisconsin (when I was 10) to begin a new hoof-trimming career (again, not joking) he realized that NOBODY in Wisconsin had equipment like his. His chute was superior.He made an arrangement with his inventor-friend. My dad began building those chutes, modifying them, and basically pimping them out for the mass-resale to the general hoof trimming population.
The “general hoof trimming population” was comprised of a dozen or so guys with big trucks and no teeth. They were often overheard saying, “What in the shoot-dang is that fancy chute doin’ to those cows? Eh?! I’m a git me one right after the Packers smoke dem Dallas Cowboy’s dis Sundee, Eh?!”
I may be exaggerating.
When I was in high school my dad moved his new manufacturing business out of our garage and into an actual warehouse/small production building. I painted his office blue. Our neighbors were pretty psyched (about the business moving out of the suburbs, not about the blue paint).
The business has upgraded facilities 3 or so times since then. Business goes up and down depending on the economy. It’s the small business way of life. His company manufactures chutes year round now. They sell them all across the world. Canada, Japan, China, England, etc.
A fully hydraulic elevator chute costs a Hoof Trimmer about $40,000. Don’t quote me on that.
Since my dad is the only person in the company who has ever actually been a hoof trimmer, he has become at this stage of his life the owner/delivery man. I like to call him a “glorified truck driver”. He hooks up the new chutes to the back of his truck and drives all over the U.S. to deliver the pretty new equipment and teach his customers how to use their new chutes. Sometimes people crash their trucks/rigs on the side of the road. He goes to retrieve the damaged equipment and bring it back to the shop to repair it. At other times, guys don’t pay their bills. Dad goes and plays “repo man” and takes it back.
This delivery gig is how I get to see my parents as often as we do. If they are ever headed to the East Coast, they try to swing by the DC Area for a night or two to visit us. They are here this week, actually!
Say, “Hi, ya’ll!”
The big red hoof trimming chute that is currently hitched to a cow-spotted truck in front of our home only confirms our ‘oddity’ to the neighbors. It’s sweetness.
All in the Family
My two brothers are hoof trimmers. They spend a lot of time with dairy cows. They make good money and don’t have any student loans to pay back. That’s a novelty, eh? They make their own schedules. They live in Wisconsin. They are so manly. (grunt!)
And now we shall watch a movie that my dad took of my siblings and I on “take your kids to work day” in 1989 wherein I got a face full of manure and suddenly called the manure a bad word. Just kidding about the video. But we can take a minute to imagine that scene if you want to? K.
Tell me your mind is blown? This was fun.
We’ll return to our regularly scheduled Kitchen Series soon, probably. :-)
For now I’ve got to go find some manure to smell.
Tell me if you had EVER heard of Hoof Trimmers before and I’ll send you a dairy cow…