“Dad! Come up here! There’s a monster outside!” –Little boy
“What? Come down here.” -Mike
(little feet stomping down the stairs)
“Come ‘ere. Look! There’s a cow out there!”-Little boy
“Anna! Anna!” I was vacuuming in the laundry room. It took a while for Mike to get my attention.
“Come see this.”-Mike
Right out front was Gus.
Mike prefers pants and proper footwear when he’s chasing cows unlike me who will run out in flip-flops and a bathrobe and hope the neighbors aren’t out. I was the only one dressed for the day. It was Saturday morning and I had to be in to work shortly. By the time I got my boots on Gus was waiting at the front door for me. We haven’t been working with the steers at all. He’s comfortable with us around but doesn’t act like a big dog like Elvis did nor is he halter or rope broke. So when I stepped out to the front porch he headed for the tree line. We’ve gotten well over a foot of snow in the last week on top of what we already had. I was not going to go traipsing through the snow after him.
He and I kept an eye on each other as I headed towards the barn. Let the bribing begin. He made his way back to the corral fence where I’m assuming he hopped out. The feeder is just on the other side and between the hay mess they make and the snow the height of the fence has been shortened to about nipple height on a short legged cow. Unfortunately he couldn’t get back over because the snow where he was didn’t have the hay buildup to give him the extra height.
When I came out of the barn shaking a scoop of sweet feed his direction he started to meander my way. He was cautious, but knew he wanted what was in that scoop. When he got over the snowbank and up to me I gave him a little sample and lead him into the barn. Things were going so smoothly until I realized my first mistake. When Gus was outside, before I brought out the sweet feed, I should have gated the barn door to the corral. When one might get a treat the rest are lining up as fast as they can to get their share too.
Everybody was inside the barn, head though the fence boards, pushing and squeezing trying to get as close to the feed box as possible. Somehow I needed to get one in the small gate without letting the rest out. (The reason I should have blocked the door so they wouldn’t have come in.) I unhooked the gate and pushed G.W. (the bull) out of the way with it. Caroline saw the opportunity to make a break for it. I usually let her out on a rope with me, I s’pose she was just figuring she was going to get a treat and training too. Then G.W. saw her plan and cut her off. The parade of cows began.
There’s no sense in willingly going head to head with a bull. Instead I high-tailed it to the barn door and closed it behind me. I stood there for a minute trying to think of plan C and remembering that I needed to shovel snow once again.
I peeked in the door just to be sure; yep, there they all were on the wrong side of the fence but at least contained in the barn.
The barn is not as organized as I would hope making it rather dangerous for me to just sneak in to other end and get the sweet feed can opened and dispersed without a mangling stampede with nowhere to go.
Instead I went to the chicken coop and got a scoop of their feed. I called for Lucy over by the barn door that I should have blocked. She called back I’m pretty sure she was laughing. So through the drifted snow and over the fence I went… into the barn… into the pen where the cows were supposed to be. They were thoroughly enjoying the hay that had scattered about the floor and couldn’t have cared less about anything I had to offer.
For a little more attention I dumped the chicken feed into my metal milk pail. That got the old girl’s attention. Lucy made her way through the pack and I lead her into the pen. Then came the rest, not into the pen though. They stopped just short at the gate. Everyone was pushy again. I picked a safe-ish spot on top the stock tank. That really gained some attention.
So I climbed over the fence to the icy side of the tank and hoped I didn’t fall in. Straddling the fence boards, I hooked my ankles together and leaned as far into the pen as I could and spread the last of the chicken feed on the ground. It was just far enough away from the gate that G.W. had to walk all the way in. A little slap on the ass and he was finally out of the way. Gus was the last one in and I quickly closed the gate.
A sigh of relief everyone was in. They had been fed because in the midst of if all I had tried tossing them their breakfast for a diversion too. Then I looked towards the barn door. The one I bribed Gus into and closed behind me when I left. The one that only latched on the outside…the opposite side that I was on. I turned around and looked at the cow pen where I had entered. There was no way I would be able to navigate that herd and I still had to get to work in town.
“Did you get him in?” -Mike
“Did it go okay?” -Mike
“Kinda. I’m locked in the barn.” -Me
“(laugh) okay. I’ll be out in a minute.” -Mike
A few minutes late there was a knock on the barn door. It was my knight in shining armor… or Mike in snow boots, bare knees, basketball shorts and a barn coat. Ah how the tides have turned; for once I’m making a call from the barn and he’s out in ill-prepared clothing.