Something you probably won’t see in the city: nine cows marching down the road. If you live in the country, you don’t want to see this either. It’s Not A Good Thing.
As my husband Mike and I came home from the grocery on recent chilly, rainy, soggy, foggy Sunday, though, it’s what we saw. Cows meandering between the chicken house and garage owned by our neighbors Don and Cheryl. The problem was that these cows weren’t theirs. The cows belonged to our Amish neighbors Emery and Ann Marie.
These cows are their living. They’ve gone from a couple of dairy cows to nine, and are expecting to raise at least three more dairy calves in the next year. They supply two local dairies with organic milk. And all this ran through my head as I saw the cows wandering about like they had all the time in the world.
We followed the cows in our Honda minivan (works as well as a pickup for herding cows), and made sure that all of them had gotten into the cornfield, and then we edged them into the middle of the field. The cows, of course, had no sense of urgency, and decided the cornfield would be a fine place to stop and have a snack.
Once they were settled, we buzzed down the lane to Don and Cheryl’s, and met them as they were getting into their golf cart. They’d seen the tail end of the cow parade, and realized that something was up.
Because it was a Sunday, we knew that Emery and his family would not be home. They are part of a very traditional order of Amish, and would be away from the house most of the day attending their worship service.
Mike walked along with Don, moving the cows across the lane and over the mile and a half of fields separating the cows from their home pasture. Cheryl and I loafed along in the golf cart, corralling the strays and moving them back into the main group of cows.
There’s a small stream separating the back of Don’s fields from Emery’s property. There’s just a small culvert pipe at the lot line there, covered with earth. The whole area was sticky and muddy, and the cows took great delight in moving through this area. Mike and Don didn’t have nearly as much fun.
Cheryl and I stopped the golf cart a little bit north of the culvert bridge and hopped the creek. We got the pasture gate open, and just in time too. Most of the cows suddenly developed a sense of direction, and just trotted right up the bank back into their home pasture. Except the bull calf. He jumped right back over the creek, and headed for the golf cart like it was his sworn enemy!
Don and Mike finally got him back over the creek again, and then I was able to turn him up the bank and with a lot of “Get on there” and really loud clapping, he finally decided to escape the crazy humans and join the rest of the herd in the pasture. Don grabbed the gate and Mike and I grabbed the secondary pickets, and we had that gate back up in no time.
Afterward, Don and Mike walked through the pasture to see if the fence was broken anywhere, but it looked fine in both the upper and lower pasture. There were a couple of places where there was just one wire, and it was pushed up out of place. Don’s theory is that one or two cows may have wriggled out, and the others just followed.
Emery was certainly surprised when he came home on Sunday night and found his cows in the upper pasture, especially since he’d left them in the lower pasture. We’ll be seeing him soon, and are looking forward to telling him the whole story.
This adventure just underlines one of the best things about rural living–you get to know your neighbors, and everyone’s always willing to pitch in when things get out of hand…or out of the pasture.