I’m happy to report that the farmhouse is now complete and has been certified as habitable by the local council!
But we’re not completely done because we are now converting the old milking shed into a plant nursery where we will propagate seedlings for the revegetation project.
So we are still being visited by builders and the other day we had an early meeting with the horticulturalist and the builder. Rather than get up early and drive out in the morning, we figured we would go out the night before and stay at the farm, which was the whole point of building the house in the first place.
It was so peaceful and restful and I slept so soundly I didn’t even get up to go out in the middle of the night to check out the stars.
Good thing. Danger lurked.
The next morning, well after dawn, we woke up. Excitedly, I opened the bedroom blinds to have a look at the place in the morning light.
And aged a few centuries.
Less than twenty feet away and staring into my eyes was the biggest, ugliest cow I’ve ever seen. It didn’t have a ring it its nose and smoke wasn’t coming out of its nostrils, but it was still terrifying.
Actually, though, terror wasn’t my first reaction. The first was a sort of cognitive aphasia in which I was unable to process what I was seeing. We don’t have any cows on the property just now and we’ve spent a lot of time and effort making sure the fences are secure to keep the neighbors’ cows at bay. So what I was seeing just couldn’t be.
When I finally became convinced that, yes, there was a cow outside my bedroom window my next reaction was It better not shit on my nice new driveway. Or worse on the patio tiles I’d just personally installed.
My wife and I then had a perfectly rational conversation about the fact that there had been a bovine incursion onto the property.
The part that wasn’t so rational was the conclusion that I should go out and do something about it.
Over the years I’ve gone out of my way to avoid ungulate interaction. Maybe it’s the whole cloven hoof business. What I do know, intellectually, is that they are relatively harmless. I just have a hard time really believing that when I get close to one and see how huge they really are. And how irrationally they generally seem to behave.
Not only did I not want to deal with the beast, to be honest I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t have a convenient length of rope that I could lasso it with. Can you picture that? I also didn’t know where the thing had come from. Or how it had gotten in. The farm is supposed to be surrounded by stock proof fencing. Obviously not. It must have somehow squeezed or pushed its way through some part of the fence.
It was highly unlikely that I would be able to find the opening. And highly impossible that I would be able to escort the beast back through where ever it came from. It’s not like walking a dog.
Fortunately, both the guys we were meeting with that morning had grown up on farms and once they arrived, everything was under control (i.e., out of my hands).
They figured out where the cow had come from and devised a way to secure him until the owner could come get him. We were going to get the cow into one of our gated paddocks adjacent to the neighbour’s boundary.
The challenge was getting it into the paddock. The customary way is to form a gauntlet, as it were, and to drive the cow(s) from point A to point B. But moving one cow in the right direction is a lot harder than moving a bunch of them. We were aiming him toward a six foot wide gate. And there were only three of us. Well actually, those two guys and me.
The plan was to form a semicircle and move in the direction we wanted the beast to go. Its flight mechanism would make it move inexorably toward the gate.
Another reason I’ve historically given cows a wide berth is because you have to watch every step when you are around them. A reality of cow pastures is cow pies.
Well, this time the rules were different. Looking down was out of the question. We had to watch the cow to see where it was going. And because it was a little panicked it decided to run around in a random zig zag pattern. The zags were often straight at me!
So there I was running around chasing and being chased by this cow. Now I know how those guys in Pamplona feel.
Not only that, I wouldn’t have thought the cow had been around long enough to drop so many bombs. They were everywhere and I think I hit every one of them as I sprinted wildly around. Walking in the pastures is hard enough because the ground is surprisingly uneven. Running is virtually impossible and when your traction is compromised by cow shit, it’s even worse. It was awful.
All I could think of was what an ignominious end it would be if I slipped and broke my neck. How would you like that on your tombstone?
Here Lies Thomas
A man of the city
He was chased by a cow
And his demise was shitty
Anyway, we finally got the cow where we wanted it.
And I took my second shower of the morning.