Twelve years after I took the bull by the horns and debunked the rural myth of cow tipping ("Rural myth has long been milked," Sunday Gazette-Mail, June 17, 2001), my work has been vindicated!
Earlier this month, the quarterly magazine Modern Farmer included a piece by author Jake Swearingen titled "Cow Tipping: Fake or Really Fake." The answer to the question posed by the title was a resounding "yes."
"Let's get this out of the way: Cow tipping, as least as popularly imagined, does not exist," Swearingen wrote at the start of his article. "Drunk young men do not, on a regular basis, sneak into cow pastures and put a hard shoulder into a cow taking a standing snooze, thus tipping the poor animal over."
In my 2001 piece, I quoted a dairy magazine editor, an author of a dairy farm book, and a WVU animal science professor in coming to the same conclusion.
The cow-tipping myth seems to have come into being in the late 1970s, and stampeded into the '80s, when movies like "Tommy Boy" and "Heathers" featured cow tipping expeditions.
I've heard and read accounts of cow tipping adventures for years -- usually told by someone who, when pressed for details, said they did not personally tip a cow, but knew someone who had.
Having grown up on a beef farm, the cow tipping narrative never rang true to me for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, cattle lie down to sleep -- they don't catch their Zs in the full, upright position as the cow-tipping legend has it.