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Bovine Code Red!

April 30, 2010

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.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary permalink
    May 1, 2010 2:42 am

    Oh Tom!

    This is hilarious (at your expense). You must submit this to “somewhere” for a broader audience. Your writing style is excellent. You had me from the get go to the shitty ending!


  2. May 1, 2010 12:12 pm

    Without a doubt the hardest I’ve ever laughed at a cow-related story. At least your patio tiles came out unscathed.

  3. May 1, 2010 3:58 pm

    Thanks for the story, Tom. You call it the ‘farm’ so why not a cow? It perfectly fits on a farm. You should consider some chicken and a goat, they keep the weeds down…….

  4. May 1, 2010 9:01 pm

    Don’t you have any snakes or alligators to worry about?

    • May 2, 2010 8:43 pm

      One of NZ’s advertising points is no snakes. And the only reptiles are small and good natured. But we may have a mouse problem that I may have to talk about one of these days.

  5. May 3, 2010 10:22 am

    I fell compelled to be contrarian and look at this from the cow’s point of view:

    Here I was minding my own business, when I noticed that some creature had changed my landscape. I took a look and — lo — a truly bizarre-looking thing came out and stared at me. I’ve never got such a shock in my life, so I said ‘Holy Cow,’ then ‘Holy Shit’, and with that relieved myself and felt better. But then two other monsters joined it, and attacked me without provocation. I gave them a piece of my mind but then sought the high ground. it’s never a good idea to pick a fight with a lesser species….

  6. May 6, 2010 12:26 pm

    hehe, great! Love the “bovine incursion onto the property” and “there were only three of us. Well actually, those two guys and me.”

  7. flamingo permalink
    May 11, 2010 5:26 am

    I think you have a little way to go before you become a true farm dweller – I don’t know any yokel who would spot a cow outside their farmhouse and think “It better not shit on my nice new driveway. Or worse on the patio tiles I’d just personally installed.”

    For now the role of honorary (or even apprentice maybe) peasant might have to suffice :-))

  8. May 14, 2010 4:50 pm

    I love this! When we first moved out of town my husband and I went into town to work on our business computer and left the four kids at home. We got a phone call from our daughter to tell us that the there were 3 pigs in my garden(My first attempt at a vegetable garden). Nothing was left unturned. The garden was destroyed.

    Fast forward to the next year. New garden attempt. I heard a large thumping sound coming from the west. It was a heard of sheep that got out from the neighbors. I quickly moved from the garden and into the house. Once in the house I heard them coming again from the east and back through the garden again. They stampeded through the garden and it was destroyed for the second year in a row.

    Fast forward once again to the next year’s garden. We needed to have new electric service to the house installed. I told my husband that they could put the new line in anywhere except through my garden. Apparently the message was never heard or never understood by the installers because when I got home from work plants were uprooted everywhere and they couldn’t made a more direct path through my garden if they had tried.

    I’ve given up on vegetable gardens. My perennial flowers have managed to survice without incident.

  9. May 14, 2010 4:57 pm

    LOL–How did you get rid of the pigs and the sheep?

  10. May 15, 2010 12:47 am

    Forgive the mispellings herd(heard) and survived (survice). I was up late helping my husband on his race truck last evening when I posted.

    As for the pigs and sheep we contacted the neighbors to find out who had pigs and they came and directed them home much like the way you did with the cow.

    The sheep headed home on their own. I always had a different image of sheep much like the sheep from James Herriot’s book “All Things Bright and Beautiful” not stampeding sheep.

    We’ve been here nearly 20 years now and no other incidents with roaming animals. We did however find a dead possum on the road a few years ago and propped it up as a hood ornament on our teenage daughters car as a joke. It was not well received.

    • May 15, 2010 10:14 am

      I think I’d prefer cows to sheep–there is a slight spark of sentience in cows.

      The possum hood ornament is a great idea and would be wildly popular down here where possums are a huge pest–they do huge damage to native vegetation and endanger the flightless birds.

  11. May 15, 2010 6:37 pm

    Possums are relatively new to our area. The first one we saw was about three years ago. Some say they are here because of global warming. Some say they came from the southern US with hay that was trucked up here when we had a drought in the late 90’s. I tend toward the second theory. We haven’t seen the type of damage that you have described yet. I hope it doesn’t get to that point around here.

    Our newest pests are wild turkeys. Twenty years ago we hardly saw a wild turkey or pheasant but with a few milder winters back to back we are seeing their numbers increase. One of our customers hit a wild turkey with his truck and did over $800.00 damage to the front of his truck and that was before he found out that the transmission line was damaged as well. The transmission fluid all leaked out and ruined the transmission because he drove with no fluid in it.

    His luck wasn’t that great because not two months before he hit a deer with his truck and did over $2800.00 damage. Whitetail deer are a big problem around here.

    I think I prefer cows to sheep as well. One of the ladies from our church has a pet sheep she named “Bubba” It is the biggest sheep I have ever seen. It sits out in front of her garage, standing guard. The mailman and delivery man will no longer stop because they are afraid of Bubba. He never does anything. He just looks intimidating. I’ve got a great picture of Bubba I may just post on my blog if I decide to write about him.

  12. June 15, 2010 9:24 am

    ahahaha!! I can always depend on your blog to make me laugh. the poem is hilarious and I am totally with you on this……I give cows a very wide berth, they are way to unpredictable. Put a fence between me and them and I am ok, but not for anything would I want to be facing one down on my own. Mind you they are awfully cute when still calves, so there we go.
    Thanks for a good LOL

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