Yeah. We are it.
On Friday the 13th (coincidence? I think not!) was as close to a livestock catastrophe as I want to come… unless you count the year that one of the pigs died while Brian was hunting and Bug and I had to drag it out of the pen and then cover it until Brian could come home and bury it in the frozen November ground. Yup. Friday is as close as I ever hope to go again.
Our cows escaped on Friday.
I’m not just talking, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence escaped, I’m talking… “HOLY SHIT. THE PASTURE IS EMPTY. WHERE ARE THE COWS?”
No, I’m not kidding and no, it’s not funny. Have you ever seen me panic? Usually it’s over a wayward kid, family, or car accidents. My face goes white (can I get more pale than I am now? Oh you bet), I get really nervous and not a lot of what I say makes sense.
I’m not even sure that had I been around, this would have been avoided. Yes, I would have seen Bessie hop the front of the fence and possibly even seen her sister Bertha (No, these are not the cows names. The names of the cows have been changed to protect their identity) follow suit and mosey (cause cows mosey most days) out of the yard, up the road and cross the stop sign.
But I wasn’t. I took Peanut and did some much needed grocery shopping and started our Christmas shopping (Special huge Thank You to Rachel for that. I am forever in your debt). I got home shortly before Bug but never noticed that the cows were missing. They often lay down in their barn or behind the shed where I can’t see.
Thought. Nothing. Of. It.
Until Bug came home and I walked out with him to check the cows like he does every afternoon. I don’t normally check the cows with him but we were engaged in a pointless conversation and I followed him out the back door.
Then I asked, “Bug, where are the cows?”
“Dunno. Probably behind the lean-to.” (If you don’t know what a lean to is, don’t ask, I don’t have time to explain it).
So he goes. And he checks. And he comes running back up to the fence.
“They’re not here.”
“What?! Are you sure? Walk the pasture!”
“MOM! I’m Sure! They. Are. Not. Here!”
Insert me panicking and pacing… and sentences that consist of “Oh shit. Holy shit.”
Long story short, I hop on the phone to call Brian who was at physical therapy and then was headed straight to work (oh yeah, I forgot to mention late call on Thursday confirmed that he can go back to work… again. More on that later). While I was making incoherent phone calls, Bug set out on his bike and then on foot to see if he could walk the neighboring fields and find them. Throughout all of that, I was convinced I heard “mooing” off in the distance like a kitten crying, trapped in a well.
See. Told you. PANIC.
It’s then that Bug comes running into the house, panting, gasping and red in the face.
“You found them?” Shorty, Bebe, Peanut, the dog and I are all waiting anxiously.
“NO! But almost as good! The UPS guy stopped me along the side of the road and asked if he could help me. I told him only if you’ve seen two cows. And he did!”
Turns out Bessie and Bertha were on a cross country / cross the road trip towards wherever their feet could plod them to. Around 10:30 that morning, after lying in wait for me to leave with Peanut, the escape artists hopped the front of the fence and set out on a journey of cars, overgrown green grass and adventure galore!
The Amish neighbors (because that’s the only neighbors I have), found them wandering along the side of the road, begging for food, water, and a place to escape the cars and semi trucks whizzing by them on our boring state route. The Amish obligingly took them in and put them up in their barn until they could find the owners.
Which as you know, takes longer because Amish do not have telephones.
We got the cows home, safe and angry, after a stern talking to, Brian decided to keep them penned up in the trailer overnight. But these girls… Oh these are not your average FAT HEIFERS. These cows have mystical powers and made themselves skinny enough to slip through the side window on the trailer and then proceeded to try and leave the confines of the pasture… AGAIN. After dark. After Brian had gone to work.
Because as you all know, they’re sneaky and dressed like ninjas.
Once again, I dial the Cow Escape Help Line and convince Brian’s friend and one of mine to come over and help us get Bessie, aka “the instigator” back into the fence. We then work by car headlight (sorry Erin about the dead car battery) to fashion some additional barbed wire at the top of the fence.
I speak to Brian at work and he decides to enact The Great Cow Watch of 2009 every hour until sun up.
Fast forward to today, Monday, a normal day by any other glance.
Except when you have Bessie and Bertha.
Around 11am this morning I look out the back door, because ever since Friday night’s excitement, I am convinced that the cows know they are not long for this world and will try to make a break again soon.
I was right.
Bessie is slowly working her way up the tree-lined path while her sister cranes her neck to grab whatever green, yummy goodness she can get before she has to give up her position as look out and join her sister on the other side of the fence.
I run to wake up Brian who worked Sunday night and informed him we have cows on the loose. (How many of you get to say that in your daily conversations?)
Brian chases herds the cow in the wrong direction, because she’s stubborn and won’t go in the direction he wants and because he is still limping (and she’s mocking him I’m sure with her four good legs to his one), while I gather up as much hay as I can hold to lure/coerce Bertha away from the fence.
After a long chase, an Amish boy, the age of Bug to help us later, we manage to get Bessie back in to the pasture. We dole out another stern talking to, loads of extra hay and swift promises of meeting their maker soon. The Great Cow Watch of 2009 has been reinstated until further notice (every hour on the hour, checking their whereabouts like delinquent teens skipping curfew) and begin the task of emailing every friend and family member we can think of to see who wants to buy some fabulously delish, fresh beef in about two months.
I’ve always suspected the Amish thought we were entertaining. Bug told me that Brian and the Amish were laughing about it all while he was loading them into the trailer on Friday night.
“No Bug. They weren’t laughing with you. They were laughing at you.” I tell him as he begins to pout and sees the realism that now, whenever an Amish buggy strolls past the house really slow and they all stick out their arm to wave at us, like they’ve done every day for the six years we’ve lived here; what we don’t hear, what we can’t understand in their Pennsylvania Dutch language is..
“Wave at the stupid city people who think they are farmers”.