It was around 1am when I heard Harley (our Border Collie) giving a few warning yips. It’s not uncommon for a raccoon or possum to come up close to the house to check out the chickens or turkeys and a few warning yips is usually enough. But if it goes on for a half hour, it’s time to roll yourself out of bed and find out what’s going on. So imagine my surprise when I open the front door and see the moonlit shadow of a cow go by.
So slipping into my sandals and grabbing the flashlight I’m off to investigate. My first priority is to run down to the road and close the main gate. The thing that keeps cattlemen up at night is having a herd of cows out on a busy road! With that accomplished I go to survey how they got out.
I had moved all the cows into the small working paddock in preparation for moving them to the next pasture in order to give the previous pasture a chance to catch up after the recent rains. I left them in the smaller paddock that night so I could inspect them closely in the morning and to get some photos with my grandson Luke and his mother Lauren who are visiting for the long weekend. It’s also the paddock that butts up to my hay barn where the choice hay was stacked two-high in anticipation of the coming winter. I had noticed earlier that the cows were sticking their heads in through the bars of the cattle panels to get to the hay, but that’s pretty normal and didnt think much of it. Well it turns out that they had eaten enough of the lower bales of hay that the bales stacked on top had rolled forward and knocked the cattle panels askew allowing the cows to get out.
Fortunately the cows are well trained to being moved to fresh pasture at the sound of my voice so with flashlight in hand I trudge off to the gate trying to avoid burying my sandals in the fresh cow pies. I then commenced to calling the cows into the next pasture. It’s a good thing we dont have close neighbors because I can only imagine what they’d think if they heard me singing “here cow, come on cow” at 1:30 in the morning. So like Pavlov’s dog to the sound of the bell, the cows start coming to my voice and I move most of them to the fresh pasture. I then had to round up the remaining ones that had gone searching for better grass in Molly’s flower gardens. Of course Harley wants to get involved now, and though she’s a Border Collie, she’s no cow dog. Between the two of us we finally round up the 4 or 5 errant animals and usher them back into the paddock and they instinctively follow the herd into fresh pasture.
It’s 2:30 now, and with clean feet, I take calming breaths trying to reduce my heart rate. I try to put out of my mind the work I’ll have to do in the morning to restack the hay and fix the fencing. Rest easy everyone, crisis averted - the cows are safe for now.