There are a few words that are sure to bring on an intense response on the farm. ‘Fire’ is one. The report of rain when you have a whole field of hay down ready to be baled is another. Right up there next to ‘Fire’ is the phrase I yelled to my husband after working all night and just getting into a deep sleep. ‘Cows are OUT!!!!’ He jumped out of bed, dazed but ready for action when I had to tell him, oops, my mistake. They just LOOKED like they were out! Sorry, honey.
To this false alarm, we had our share of real bovine on the loose escapades! A very memorable one is the time the cows got out just after an electrical storm – the boogers knew the electric fence was out. I was in the barn feeding my horses when I saw out of the corner of my eye a flash of shaggy brown fur. That could be a moose on the loose but unlikely since we are in Ohio.
We had a herd of Scottish Highlanders cattle which are quite unique in their appearance with shaggy brown fur and long horns! They look like a cross between yaks and a giant Lhasa Apso dog with horns. So I walk out of the barn to see half of the herd circling the farmhouse at a dead run, with the occasional cow hop thrown in! Not good. So I yell, ‘Cows are OUT’ to get the troops in action!!! My kids are young so the ‘troops’ consist of me and hubby. To add to the drama, it is just before dusk and a thick fog is rolling in. We had minutes to get this group gathered up before we lost all visibility. My husband gets the ATV out with wheels spinning and mud flying and sets out to ’round up’ the herd. To our dismay, the herd had split with half heading to the back 40 and half up by the house and the road. Really not good. He got the herd in the general vicinity of one another as he disappears down our back lane swallowed up in the dense fog as I yell after him, ‘Don’t get hurt!!!’ My words are drowned by the roar of the engine. This is a man on a mission!
I wait at the end of the lane feeling kind of helpless as the minutes tick by and the light fades. The fog has settled in so thick it muffles the sound of beast and engine so I am enveloped in this white cloud of suspense. I hope and pray my husband isn’t in a ditch somewhere being trampled by shaggy beasts.
Then like a dream, shadows of cows appear and become more distinct. Sounds of hoofbeats, breath and moos follow so I know its not just my wishful thinking that brought them back to me. I am able to direct them back into their pasture with my very satisfied husband pulling up the rear. We are able to secure the gate after the last cow just as the light fades completely.
That night my mind wants to go over the ‘what ifs’ of hurt bodies, loose cows on highways in the dark, little children waiting for mom and dad to appear thru the fog but my body is too tired. You learn to live with unknowns and suspense on a farm because you deal with nature and weather and economy, all of which you have little control over. But today we had victory!