Sunday, April 15, 2007

Home on the Range

There's cows in my yard this morning, and I'm not a bit surprised.

Our premises protector and anti-turkey-hunting neighbor dog, BUD, was going out of his mind yesterday barking like a... well, like a dog with something seriously different to bark at. Miss Brenda stepped outside to investigate and came back in the door with the announcement: "We have cows" (Italics provided to indicate feminine announcements and pronouncements).

Miss Brenda and I pulled on our boots and went to see if we could find the break in the fence with our neighbors, through which our bovine visitors had breached our security cordon. My thought (out loud to a very skeptical Miss Brenda) was to herd the cows back through and conduct a field expedient repair of said breach. Miss Brenda, ever supportive, remarked in her confidence-building way, "Yeah, right. You don't know the first thing about cows, and when was the last time you worked with barbed wire!"

Ignoring her completely baseless assertions and aspersions regarding the competency of her MAN regarding all things manly (i.e., pushing cows, mending fences, defending the homeland, etc.), I led the way on a circuit of our property to find the interlopers' entrance. To save time, I picked up the trail of cow prints and began back-tracking. Miss Brenda tagged along, mumbling something under her breath about cows and mountain men.

As hard to believe as it may seem to those of you who are aware of my keen eye for tracking game, I lost the trail. Miss Brenda tried to help, "Here's a track!"

"No, Dear. That's a deer track."

"Here's one!"

"Sweetie, that's a turkey track."

"Stupid cows!"

We looped back to pick up the trail again, and soon I was hot on a fresh set of cow tracks. Bent at the waist, my eyes fastened to the trail six feet in front of me, it was all I could do to keep from baying like a coon hound.

"Look out!"

From long experience with the different tones and modulation of my lovely wife's voice, I detected a hint of caution, with a touch of alarm. I recognized the tone immediately, because it was one I normally hear just before something falls on my head. I stopped cold, and went into my fighting crouch (Miss Brenda later remarked that my "fighting crouch" looked more like a "defensive cringe." But her untrained eye misses a lot of nuances of the fighting style of a trained, steely-eyed, combat Marine).

"There's a cow in the pines, right there next to you!"

Upon further examination, I determined that she was indeed correct...to a point. There was a cow...with a new-born calf. And, when I say "new-born," I mean NEW-BORN. Still wet. Wobbly. Momma not happy with my proximity to her baby.

After an interminable period of oohs and aahs and picture-taking ( Miss Brenda never goes anywhere outside any more without her camera), we gave momma cow and calf a wide berth and picked up the trail once again. It led to a low point in the fence, over which it was obvious that the cows had easily trespassed on my domain.

I gave up on the idea of herding the errant walking hamburgers. Pushing momma and her calf was a non-starter, and one of the cows was actually a bull, who, though he seemed docile enough, was a BULL.

I called our neighbors on the phone and asked if they were missing any cows. They came right over, but came to the same conclusion I did about momma and the calf. My neighbor said, "I'll come back in the morning with a bucket of feed and they'll follow me home."

He must be a late riser, because it is past 0800 and the beeves are still roaming my range. Darn "free-grazers"! Better see if I can find a gun for hire--there's liable to be a range war.
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