“Hey Lund. I got a story for you that’s right up your alley,” said Keloland news director, Bill Avery, on a cold grey April morning in 1976.
“I got a call from a rancher near Winner who has a cow that just gave birth to a two-headed calf,” he said. “But if you want to get it on film, the guy says we better get there in a hurry.”
Apparently, two-headed calves are not only rare but don’t have a real long life expectancy.
“But how the heck are we supposed to get there and back in time for the news?” I asked.
“I’ve already called Business Aviation and they have a pilot and plane ready to take off,” Avery said. “The farmer will meet you at the grass landing strip near his place.”
So, off I went with cameraman, George Ringen, to chronicle this bovine oddity for our viewing audience.
This was a time before live trucks and satellite reports. Our boss thought nothing of hiring an airplane so we could cover stories anywhere in Keloland..even one as seemingly trivial as this.
An hour and a half later, there we were..George and me along with our camera gear..crammed into the front seat of a pickup bouncing along a gravel road on our way to witness this miracle.
While slogging to the barn though mud and other natural deposits found on farms, I remembered how goofy I must look in my suit and tie. But I was far from the goofiest looking thing on the ranch that day.
There in a stable, lying on some straw, was this freak of nature unable to nurse from its confused-looking mother standing nearby.
“Ain’t that somethin?” the smiling rancher asked.
“Yeah, it sure is,” I replied looking down at this thing with four eyes, two snouts and a pair from long snakey tongues projecting from two mouths.
Poor George was struggling to get angle shots of this creepy creature that wouldn’t gross-out our dinnertime TV audience as I wondered what I was going to write about.
The jokes and play-on-word stuff I had planned just didn’t seem appropriate considering the sad genetically fouled up animal we watched struggling in vane to stand up.
By the time we’d flown back to Sioux Falls and returned to the newsroom, the rancher had already called to say the little guy..or guys..hadn’t made it. We ended up running some film and a few words on the newscast to justify the expense of flying out and back..but my heart wasn’t in it.
With today’s TV reality shows, this is nothing, I suppose. But the site of that poor little calf..or calves..is burned into my memory.
For me, anyway, two heads were not….well, you know.