Linemen Help with Special DeliveryBy Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: April 29th, 2013
Responding to a service call recently gave an electric cooperative lineworker and his colleague the chance to help a new life get off to a good start.
Russ Walters of Roughrider Electric Cooperative was driving to a predawn restoration assignment with apprentice lineworker Kyle Irwin when on April 23, the men noticed a distressed cow along the edge of his neighbor’s driveway, near Hazen, N.D.
“The cow was lying kind of underneath the fence on her back with her legs in the air,” Walters said. “She couldn’t get up.”
Once the linemen cut a fence section to free the cow, they quickly discovered it was having difficulty birthing a calf.
When the farm’s owners didn’t answer the telephone, the linemen, who are both familiar with livestock, knew immediate action was needed to save the cow and her partially exposed calf.
“It was too slippery to hang on to with our hands,” Walters said. “We put our [pulling] chains around the feet and pulled it out.”
Jim Block, the Hazen-based co-op’s foreman, was working the same outage nearby and grew concerned that restoring service to the two affected farms was going so slowly.
“He could see them up on the hill rummaging around,” said Roughrider EC line superintendent Tim Volk, adding that Block and the property owner soon headed out to the pasture together. That’s where they found Walters, Irwin, the prolapsed cow and the newborn calf.
“They were on their knees by the calf,” Volk said. “Russ was rubbing its belly and making sure it was breathing.”
A veterinarian was called for the animals and the Roughrider EC crew finished restoring service to the two affected farms. They also repaired the fence they cut while freeing the cow.
Farmers Doug and Kim Biffert were relieved to know that Walters and Irwin were nearby working on the power outage when the incident occurred, and they believe their intervention saved both animals.
“We wouldn’t have got there in time,” said Kim Biffert. “That cow and calf would have both died if they hadn’t helped. It was a great thing that they did.”