By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
This Friday marks the 70th anniversary of the day a famous cow became stuck in a Yukon silo.
Grady’s story happened on Feb. 22, 1949 when the 1,200-pound cow got stuck inside a storage silo on a farm in Yukon south of the current Interstate 40.
Bill and Alyne Mach’s six-year-old Hereford cow, Grady, was having trouble giving birth to a calf. So Mach called veterinarian D.L. Crump to help.
The cow was a little wild so she was corralled in a shed next to the silo.
Grady gave birth and was ready to get out of the shed. The only light was from a small opening in the silo.
“Where’d she go?” Dr. Crump asked Mach.
Both men looked toward the silo opening and saw a few red hairs clinging to the edge of the heavy steel door.
Grady had gotten stuck in the silo door, which was only 17 inches wide and 25-1/2 inches high.
They couldn’t tear the silo down because it was too valuable and they couldn’t make the opening wider because it was encased in steel.
The Yukon farmer needed to find a way to free Grady from the silo.
After Mach asked for help through the Yukon Sun newspaper, the story of Grady’s dilemma eventually became worldwide news. People from everywhere started calling and sending telegrams offering advice on how to safely free the cow.
One person’s advice was to tunnel under the silo. Another suggested bringing an attractive bull to the opening to lure Grady out.
Yet another suggestion was to fill the silo with water and float Grady to the top.
Five days after Grady’s leap, Mach received a call from The Denver Post which was sending its farm editor Ralph Partridge and a veterinarian to come to Yukon to get Grady out of the silo.
There were about 350 people at Mach’s farm waiting to see how they were going to free Grady, who was being given food and water while stuck in the silo.
A ramp was built from the floor of the silo to the door and the door edges were coated with axle grease. Grady was then outfitted with two heavy halters coated with the grease.
Dr. Crump gave her two shots to relax her.
While men outside the silo pulled on ropes attached to her halters, Partridge and Yukon vocational agricultural teacher J.O. Dicky Jr. pushed.
Grady slid right through the door with only a couple scratches along her back. Once she was out, Mach shut the silo door.
Grady the cow was a local celebrity for the rest of her life. The March 7, 1949 issue of Life magazine featured a picture taken from the top of the silo showing Grady trapped inside it.
The photo caption read: “Imprisoned by the concrete walls of a silo, an Oklahoma cow eyes the tiny opening … through which she entered and later escaped.”
She marched in the Capitol Hill ‘89ers Parade on April 21, 1949 in Oklahoma City and was exhibited later that year at the Oklahoma State Fair.
Tourists regularly came to see her at the Mach farm and she became such a tourist attraction that Mach erected a sign on Route 66 noting her home.
Grady went on to become a mother several times; she had four heifers and two bulls.
Grady the cow died on July 24, 1961 at age 18. The Machs sold the farm and the old silo was torn down in December 1997. Integris Canadian Valley Hospital now occupies the site.
A BOOK ABOUT GRADY
Yukon author Una Belle Townsend wrote her first children’s book, “Grady’s In the Silo,” which was published in 2003.
Townsend, who was an elementary school teacher and librarian for more than 30 years, first wrote about Grady after hearing two local women talk about the famous cow in Yukon.
Townsend was teaching fourth grade in El Reno and thought a local story might interest her students who were studying Oklahoma history.
She whipped up a 3,300-word story about the cow and read it to her class.
“They enjoyed it,” said Townsend, who later updated her story after learning more about Grady the cow during special anniversary events in Yukon.
“It’s a great Oklahoma story that children like, and I enjoyed telling my classes about Grady. I continued to revise my story each year when I taught a little about Oklahoma. I always mentioned the cow in the silo.”
About a decade after the story was rejected by a large New York publishing house, Townsend sent her manuscript to Pelican Publishing Co. in Gretna, La. Pelican liked the story and published “Grady’s In the Silo” in 2003.
The book received an Oklahoma Center for the Book award in 2004 and a Children’s Choice Award.
Many teachers use the story of Grady the cow to teach about farm life or the beef industry, according to the Yukon author.
“Others use the story to show teamwork, patience and perseverance,” Townsend said. “Ag in the Classroom has used Grady’s story in their lessons for teachers for many years. And, some people just like to read cow stories.”
Townsend is available to share the story of “Grady’s In the Silo” to local schools and libraries. Contact the author at email@example.com