When the Cows are Out Again
The thing about cows (or any animal, for that matter), is that they like to wander. The grass is always greener somewhere else, and that’s reason enough to check things out. Especially if there’s a gate that’s open or an opening in a fence, that is. Cows are herd animals. They like to hang together and often babysit each other’s calves. Watch them sometime. You’ll see a group of cattle off chewing cud, lying down in the pasture while their babies are in another section of the pasture with one lone mama looking out for them. The cows take turns and the calves listen to their babysitter.
After a while, you get used to the temperaments of your own cows. They get used to you and come when they’re called.
The first time, day one.
That’s why, when a lady stopped at my house the other day and banged on my door, I got a little perturbed. There was one measly cow out along the road, and she just knew it had to be ours. I told her I’d come check, but I thought our cows were all in the pasture.
“Well, it has to be yours,” she snapped. “When Jimmy’s cows get out, it’s always just a bunch of them, and this is just one, so I just know it’s yours.”
Dave has only met “Jimmy” once, but he doesn’t think that’s the name he remembers. He doesn’t know his last name, nor does he have a phone number. All he knows is that “Jimmy” doesn’t live around here. Apparently, there are neighbors who shoo the cattle across their yard and back into the pasture.
I found the cow along the road and watched the guy in the yard shoo her across his yard back into her neck of the woods.
The second time, day two.
The very next day, I got a call from the Sheriff’s department. We’ve gotten calls from them at one o’clock in the morning, but fortunately, every time we’ve been called during the night, our cows were all home where they belonged.
Usually, the conversation goes like this:
“This is 9-1-1- calling, and we had a report that there is a black cow along the road on Cluster Springs road near Cedar Grove road. Would this cow happen to be yours?”
Then whoever answers the phone tells the caller we will check. We count our cows, call them back and let them know our cows are all home where they belong. The person I call back is usually incredulous that it’s really not our cows because they have no idea who else’s they might be.
I always end up repeating that there’s another farmer up the road who has cows that keep getting out. They ask his name and I just tell them it’s “Jimmy” or “Tommy” but I don’t have the last name. And no, I don’t have a phone number. You can be sure that if I did, I’d be handing it out.
This time, I told the gal I’d go count our cows. They were all accounted for, so I hit re-dial on the phone and let them know our cows are home where they belong.
Day three. Same song, different verse.
The very next day (yup, three days in a row) just as the sky was turning dark, I heard a horn in the driveway. Some guy in a king-cab truck sat out there, blaring his horn. For a moment, I thought there had been an accident or there was a fire somewhere. I opened the door and had to walk to the edge of the deck because he wasn’t about to get out of his heated cab.
“You’ve got a big black cow out right in the road!” he hollered through the open window of the warm cab of his truck.
“I’ll be glad to check, but it might not be ours,” I answered.
“It’s got to be your-uns,” he hollered back. “It’s right out here by your place and it’s right in the road, I’m telling you!!”
We checked. It wasn’t ours.
By this time, the truck-man was long gone and I couldn’t even prove I was right.
I confess that by day three, the hair on the back of my neck started to bristle when I was accused of having cows out on the road. I had a few comebacks I would have like to have given, but I couldn’t.
Even if I had the opportunity, there would be no reason to give comebacks, because our cows can be ornery, too. Oh how well I know.
Our cows have gotten out. (You can read about that here.) They’ve been lost for days. It could just as well have been our cows, even though this time it wasn’t.
I also confess to feeling a little bit smug because in the past when someone has stopped to tell us there is a cow (or a bull) on the road, the animals belonged to us.
Even though Dave has done some things to shore up the boundaries, there’s no guarantee that the next time, it won’t be our cows.
How stray cows can be like our kids
‘Reminds me a little bit of raising kids. No point in getting smug and thinking to yourself, “My kids would never do that” because yes, they might and they could. Folks who have been parenting for some time will know that. It’s a good idea not to say “never” because there’s a good chance that some of the things you think your kids would never say or do they have already done.
That’s why we’re game to help someone else get their cows back in because one day, we might be the ones who could use some help – whether it’s with grazing cattle or raising kids.