Ponder this:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cow crossings

A few years ago, Husband was driving home and met a young Black Angus bull in the road. He and it negotiated for passing rights and as Husband accelerated away, he kept checking his rearview mirror to see where the bull was. From the corner of his eye, he saw movement. The young bull was alongside him, working up a good charge, aiming at the front passenger side fender.

One day in the fairly recent past, I too met a young bull in the road. This was a Hereford, not the Black Angus with whom Husband had dallied. It was just about where, not long ago, I saw the ruffed grouse. The bull stood and stared, blinking at me. I sat in my stopped car and waited to see what would happen. After some minutes, the big beefer moved slightly away from the middle of the road. Tentatively, I pressed the gas pedal.  And stopped again when the bull shook his head, ears flopping slightly, and lowered that head. "Oh Lord," I thought. "Here it comes." The bull feinted at me; I blew the horn. He wheeled away off to the side out of my path. I gingerly went on past him while he stared. Blinking.

Last Sunday while Husband napped, the dogs and the cat and I went outdoors to sit on the patio to enjoy the sunshine. I took my book, the nail clippers, my glass of water, and all the other accoutrements I thought I might need. Didn't want to open and close doors too many times and wake up Husband. Also: didn't want to have to move from my chair more than absolutely necessary. 
I sat reading and happily growing drowsy in the sun and delicate breeze. 

Eventually, as always, the dogs erupted into a cacophony of Alarm Barks. It is so rarely an occasion that requires my attention that I read another page, while they continued, before I looked up...
...to see a seven-cow parade strolling along the farm road at the bottom of the field, heading for the hayfields. They passed behind the trees and I waited for them to appear at the other side where I would again have a clear view of them. 
One cow retraced her steps to peer up the field at the noisemakers. The others, five cows and a calf, followed her. They lined up side by side, their black faces (two with white forehead blazes) intent on the scene, their ears all pointed toward us. The dogs were nearing complete insanity.
After three minutes, the Head Cow tossed her head and turned to go off across the next down-the-hill field and the others followed, lalloping after her. 
I thought I should call somebody, but I don't know anybody who has Black Angus. And I kind of liked the idea of them ranging around the hayfields.
Hours later in the day, Two-Hills-Away-Neighbor called to ask if we had seen any cows wandering around. A neighbor of his, over the next hill, had just bought those cows and put them in a pen that didn't hold them. They had rounded them up since I had seen them, gotten them close to the gate . . . when all seven scattered in different directions . . . behavior, I have heard, that is more common to Black Angus than to other bovines. I like that; it means to me that their instincts are intact. But then I'm not the one trying to keep them corralled.
"They'll be wanderin' all over all summer now," Neighbor said. "I think one of 'em's headed for town."
So far as I know the Happy Wanderers are still at large. 
Sooner or later I'm sure I'll meet one of them in the road somewhere. 
I drive slowly.


threecollie said...

Black angus are the cattle of the devil...we have had them in the past but we don't any more...because...

Vicki Lane said...

Every time I see (or even hear of ) cattle out roaming around, I'm thankful if they're not ours.

We had Belted Gallowyays once -- also cattle of the devil when it came to fences.

Mac n' Janet said...

I believe all cows are minions of the dark who plot against humans on a regular basis

Carolynn Anctil said...

I love it! I think they should simply be adopted by the entire area residents and allowed to happily roam free, like communal pets. I mean, really, who are they bothering? (Other than the dogs, of course, who like a good excuse to bark from time to time anyway. Earn their kibble.)


Fran Hill said...

Lalloping is such a good word. I shall adopt it.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you write June. Who ever knew that there were opposing camps in the world of bovines? :) In any case, the cows surely thank you for driving slowly. Happy Mother's Day.

Freda said...

Ah but Highland Cattle are the worst. They are not as their gentle eyes would predict, especially if you are trying to skirt round them on the mountain with a little dog. (Dog is firmly on the lead and will not dare to make a squeak!) After that experience, - it was the rolling of their eyes and the bellowing that did it - I was not helped by reading in the paper how someone had been trampled to death by cows.

June said...

threecollie, I understand there isn't a fence that can keep them in. I don't know how anybody keeps them.

Vicki, I don't think I've ever seen a Belted Galloway. I gather they have a lot in common with Angus.

Mac 'n' Janet, I guess if you're the one trying to keep them, you'd see it that way. Me, I like watching them reenacting Born Free.

Carolynn, I love it too! We can feel that way, not having paid good money for twenty-eight hooves to go tromping off miles away.

Thanks MB. My insurance company would thank me, too, if they knew. With any luck they'll never will.

Freda! You mean those cute little shaggy poodle-looking cattle can be fierce? I saw one once at the fair and she was quite QUITE careful about keeping her eye on the public and keeping herself between us and her baby.

alexis nicole said...

My parents have a farm of Black Angus and they are very protective of their babies! I was helping my Dad get a Mama and a Baby back into their fenced in space and came between the two and the Mama almost trampled me. Haha, your post made me laugh!

June said...

Fran, thanks. They did, in fact, lallop. They can't quite gallop; they have all that stuff hangin' off 'em, you know.

June said...

Alexis, I'm glad you didn't get trampled. I would have been scared. But it's one of the things that I like about beef cows...that they get to keep their babies with them.

I was driving by a pasture once in hot late spring. Several Angus cows all standing in the shade of a tree. A calf out in the sun, staring at one of the cows, who was gazing back at him. All of a sudden, the calf tossed his head, kicked up his heels and gamboled over to his mama. I think he giggled.

Friko said...

I didn't know cows had homing instincts.
If you are put into a pen that's too small for you wouldn't you get out at the earliest opportunity and head for the hills?
Good luck to them.

Barb said...

You will have to walk with a red cape in case you have to fend off the bulls or the cattle! Once, I had to ride a bike through a herd in the middle of the road - they were spooked and started running alongside the bike! (I was spooked, too...)

June said...

Friko, I don't know that cows do have homing instincts. I think they have get outta here instincts. I think they are perpetual sufferers from the "Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" syndrome.

Barb, I would've been extremely spooked. Did they eventually give up?

#1Nana said...

Good story...reminds me of the time my children came back to the house unable to get down the lane to the bus stop because of a buffalo...hummm, maybe I'll write about that one. Thanks for the inspiration!

Bernie said...

I loved this post. June I think you are hilarious. I have never seen that side of you before.

I do not encounter cows in my daily life. I wish I did. I drive out to the countryside to watch them often. We only have dull old Holsteins tho. And yeah, they would have a hard time running with all that crap hanging down. :)