They were big, black, hungry, and on our side of the fence. Angus cattle.
Can’t blame them. Our side is relatively green and lush, despite the long summer drought. The other side is brown and hammered as only a heavily cowed pasture in drought can be. Betsy and I vowed to not be cowed, so we grabbed leather gloves, a 9mm Glock 43 noise maker in a cozy JM4 Tactical holster, and some fencing tools. Then we saddled up Old Red, the Honda 4 Wheeler.
Queue the Rawhide theme song…
“Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’. Keep that Honda rollin…” Head ’em up, ride ’em in, cowboys. And girls. Yee ha!
“Where’d they get through?” Betsy asked as we puttered close to the bovine offenders. The neighbor’s main herd was staring longingly from the other side, probably wondering how their two friends had made it through the electric fence.
“Either jumped over or slipped under. Or the power is off. Let’s not worry about that until after we get them back to their side.” There was an old barbed wire gate in the corner right by the solar panel and electric fence charger. I opened it and let down the electric wire via one of those plastic handles you see on electric fence gates from Alberta to Texas. Then I called up my vast experience as a 1960s cowherd on Grandpa’s farm, uncle Alvin’s dairy, Leo Weisser’s farm and assorted others. I held the gate at a right angle to the fence and directed Betsy to swing wide of the nearest cow and walk her gently toward the gate. Piece of cake. She looked old, calm, and innocent despite the clump of illicit CRP grass poking from her lips. In she went.
Her jail break partner was a whole ‘nother kettle of cow. Instead of walking calmly to and through the gate, she kicked up her heels and ran past, making a right angle turn down another fence line.
“Stand here and block her from going past again,” I said. “I’ll swing round and head her off. Give her time to see the gate and decide for herself to go in. She should, given all her girlfriends over there.” Well, maybe not…
While Betsy calmly stood as directed and I raced to head off our miscreant, her older sister — or maybe her mother from another lover — slipped out through the gate again. Green grass is hard to resist.
We were back where we started, buffaloed by two dumb cows. But there was a chance our older trespasser could now influence and guide the younger. I pushed the wild teenager gently toward the old lady. She was calmly stealing grass again as if she’d paid and had the receipt. That was sufficient inspiration to slow the youngster. Now both were side by side, greedily masticating illegal weed, and lined up perfectly with the open gate. Except backwards. Their butts, not their brains, were pointed at the opening. Well, sometimes there seems to be as many brain cells in a cow’s butt as its head, but the head end tends to go forward a lot quicker than the tail end, so we had to turn these around.
I swung wide and sidled in front of them, well out in the field, to suggest the open gate was a better alternative than an irate stranger with a 9mm noise maker on his hip. They turned and bolted toward my wife. For a St. Louis city girl she executed a competent country girl move, leaning just enough to change the cows’ center of stupidity. Instead of challenging her, they shied toward the gate, tried a quick dodge past it, encountered me again, and finally chose the line of least resistance and, alas, least vegetation.
We replaced a couple of broken insulators that suggested the location of the illegal entry, sparked the wires for current, and headed back to our other 276 priority chores. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of these thieving vegans.
“Life on the farm is kinda laid back?” Someone burn a John Denver album for me.
The saga of the off grid ranch has just begun…