Chickens All the Way

Any dreams I may have had of being a cowgirl were completely dashed today.

Cows are big, for one thing.

Also, they have big, gloppy poop.

Also, also, them being herd animals and all, they tend to follow each other blindly. Even when it makes no sense.

Oh, and, when properly motivated, they can move fast! I've always thought of cows as being large, slow animals. They are large, all right, but they can move (moove?) when they have a mind to!

Last night, while Ben and I were shopping with the boys, Karen called to say that there were a lot of cows out and some were in the road. By the time we got home, there were no cows to be seen, but nobody was sure what exactly had happened to them.

Our neighbors have about 21 acres of land and there are often cows over there. I was puzzled, though, because I'd seen someone rounding them up earlier in the morning and then the cows were gone. So either that round up was actually something else (vaccines, etc) and then the cows escaped and hid in the woods after they left, or they got away from wherever they were taken and Homeward Bound-ed it home. Either way, +1 for the cows!

Late this morning I looked out into the backyard to see a whole herd of cows. Most of them were in Karen's yard and about 5 were in our yard. I don't so much mind visiting cows, but they have a tendency to wander up to the road. Our road is a typical country road with lots of dips and bends and limited visibility. I look twice and say a prayer every time I pull out of my driveway. I wish I was kidding. Big cows + low visibility = bad news for bovines and motorists alike.

I called the neighbors and we all converged in the backyard to do some cow herding. One neighbor hopped on his little ranger and zipped around here and there, looking for the broken fence line, trying to figure out who owned the cows, etc. The other neighbor and I kept the cows together and off the road while we waited for some info or a game plan. When finding the owners didn't pan out and no visible fence breaks were found we were able to jimmy open a gate. "No big deal," we thought. We started herding them down the fence line and toward the (WIDE) open gate. Those cows were having none of that! They had a taste of freedom and they weren't giving it up easily! They tore right past the gate and kept running. Once they slowed down, I had the brilliant idea of clawing my way into the dense woods, making a wide circle and then coming out ahead of them. Which would have been great, but I'm no Leatherstocking and I made quite the racket in the woods. Right as I was about to emerge into the clearing, a couple of the cows spooked and ran further down the fence line. About 8 of them did start heading back in the other direction, toward the gate. Success!

Now *this* plan was fool proof. The one neighbor would stand just after the gate and I would keep herding them closer and eventually they would be forced to go into the corral!  This time we went nice and slow. Meandering, really. We were practically professionals!


Noway, nohow. Nope, they spooked and turned and ran straight into the woods! The neighbor on the ranger came back and chewed us out for not doing our jobs properly. Then he tried the same thing, you know, just to show us how it's done....and the cows gave a repeat performance. Now, all but just a couple cows were out in the woods, in the opposite direction we wanted them.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Ben had figured out who owned the property. He called the owners and left a message. After the cows retreated to the woods and us would-be cow wranglers were cold and exhausted and frustrated, we decided to call the Sheriff's Department. By the time they came out, there were just a couple cows on Karen's property. They really did try and round them up, but then those cows were spooked and headed for the woods. We were all annoyed by then and decided that we'd gone above and beyond our neighborly duties and were going inside. Someone would miss them and come to get them eventually. The guys from the Sheriff's department headed out.

A whopping 30 minutes later I looked outside and there were about 5-8 cows back by the chicken coop. Ben, Karen and the boys were gone, and the neighbors who had helped us earlier in the day were gone, as well. It was just me and the cows. I was supposed to be convalescing so I watched them warily out the back door. They were fine for a while, but then one had the bright idea to head up the driveway and, of course, his friends followed. I grabbed the broom and headed them off at the pass. They meandered away, but I realized I could not keep shooing them alllll across our back field, into the woods, every half an hour.

I called the Sheriff's department again. I tried to convey to the woman on the line that my concern was that those (large) cows would get on the road and someone would slam into them (because of the severely limited visibility). She basically made it sound like there was nothing they could do unless a cow is actually on the road. I'm sure it's a tricky thing for them, but by the time a cow gets onto the road and I make the call, there are 10-15 minutes where someone's life is in danger. She wouldn't just send someone out. I had to specifically request that an officer come out. I felt kind of sheepish and told her it was her call, but she put it back on me. Fine. Send someone.

Another nice deputy came out and we chatted about the problem. He said he'd try to track down the owners. Other officers arrived and one tried to bribe them with some chicken feed. LOL. That was quite the site. Maybe farm animal wrangling should be added to the training rural officers receive! They looked just as stumped as I felt!

Eventually, a flat-bed truck pulled up and some older fellows jumped out. They chased the cows around toward the corrals next door. As the one man came back I stuck my head out the back door and asked if he was the owner. He gave me a very guarded, "Yes." I asked if I could get his name and number so I could call him directly next time. He mumbled something and then I asked again. He reluctantly gave me his information and then hopped in his truck and left. Mr. Warm and Fuzzy.

I guess he knows what he's doing because before too long there were a bunch of cows rounded up next door. They looked tired, but pretty content with themselves. Maybe even a little smug.

Well, they had their fun and they taught this would-be farm girl an important lesson. Cows are cute,but other people's cows are cuter. I'm sticking to chickens.

[caption id="attachment_1733" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bovine their home...where they're supposed to be! Bovine their home...where they're supposed to be![/caption]





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