Lawyer And Farmer Debate Cow

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to travel this great state and visit our rural areas. One of my favorite stops is country stores where I can hear the latest news that has happened in the community, as well as receive a wealth of stories that may be true or may be the result of someone’s imagination. Either way, they have been a source of my “country education.”  

Often I am asked to repeat an article that was a favorite story by readers at these country gathering spots. One of those has been the story of the farmer and the city lawyer. I really do not know where the story came from or who was the original teller, but here is the story as repeated by me in my own way a few years back.  

On a warm fall afternoon, I made a stop in one of those country establishments for a little refreshment after a long drive. I had just settled down in a well-worn cane back chair when Mr. Jimmy walked in for his afternoon cola and peanuts. After making his purchase and pouring the salty pack of peanuts into his opened cold drink, he settled down beside me on the old church pew located in the back of the dimly lit store. Mr. Jimmy had farmed all of his life and was approaching the age of turning the farming operation over to his son.  

I could tell by the look on his face that something had happened this day that Mr. Jimmy could not wait to tell someone. With me being the only person available, I was in for a Mr. Jimmy story whether I wanted to hear it or not. A huge grin streaked across his suntanned face as he began to tell me about his day and an unusual trip to town.  

It seems Mr. Jimmy had a prize cow that always stayed in a field that the railroad passed through. However, one day last month as he made his rounds to check on his cattle, he noticed his favorite cow was missing. After looking everywhere around the farm, he assumed the train had hit his cow and carried it down the tracks. Being quite upset over his loss, Mr. Jimmy had gone into town and filed a suit against the railroad for the value of his favorite cow. Of course, the longer his drive into town was, the more valuable that cow became, and the final suit was for a large sum of money.  

The case was placed on the local docket and had just come up for a hearing earlier in the day. The railroad company had sent a new, young and inexperienced lawyer to handle the case and Mr. Jimmy had gone to the hearing without an attorney.  

As both parties entered the courtroom, the young attorney noticed that Mr. Jimmy was all alone without the help of legal counsel. Feeling somewhat at an advantage, he took Mr. Jimmy over to the side of the courtroom and started using his “legal ways” to get him to settle out of court. After talking and finally wearing the old farmer down, Mr. Jimmy reluctantly agreed to accept only half of what he was claiming his favorite cow was worth.  

After signing all of the paper work and taking his check, Mr. Jimmy started out the door when the young lawyer just could not resist gloating over taking the old farmer.  

“That little smart aleck told me he hated to tell me, but he actually had put one over on me,” Mr. Jimmy said now with a frown on his face. “He said he knew he couldn’t have won that case. It seems the engineer was asleep at the time they went through my farm and his assistant was on the phone. He told me he didn’t have one witness to put on the stand.”  

With a twinkle in his eye, Mr. Jimmy took a drink of his cola and continued with somewhat of a half-laugh in his speech, as he finished his story. “I told that young feller I was also a little worried about winning that case myself,” Mr. Jimmy said, trying to contain his laughter.  

With one more sip of his peanuts and soft drink and trying to keep the tears from running down his face, Mr. Jimmy unable to control himself any further, bursted out into laughter and said, “As I folded my check and put it in the bib of my overalls and headed out the door, I told that little smart aleck, ‘Would you believe that crazy cow came home this morning?'”  


– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau and may be contacted at: