Friday, January 14, 2011

You Can't Trust a Cow

Looks innocent and sweet, doesn't she? Just standing there in the shade, chewing her cud. You could walk over, pet her velvet nose, and ruffle the scruff of hair at the top of her head. She'd low at you before ambling away.

Don't be fooled.

She's watching you. Mentally documenting your every move. Noting your schedule and routine. Reporting back to the herd.

Growing up on the dairy farm, I usually tried to get out of all related chores. There were some things I didn't mind. I liked to teach the baby calves to drink out of buckets. Playing with new litters of kittens was always a good chore. And in the summer months, I didn't mind walking out the cow paths to bring the cows in from the pasture.

From the back door of the barn, I'd walk across the broad expanse of barnyard. One side was the mud pit; I steered clear of that. The other side was a wall of dirt and silt. The paths, themselves, were carved out of a hill by years of cows passing through. The bottom path was the widest and most flat. The rest of the hill was criss-crossed with about six or seven paths, most of them getting narrower as you reached the crest about fifteen feet above you. The lower paths were little more than dust; the upper ones littered with nettles and other thorny grasses.

The hill lasted about thirty feet of the walk before it widened into a ten-foot wide path, bordered by barb-wire fence on either side. At the end of the path were the entrances to the upper and lower pastures. A single metal gate swung between the two, blocking whichever pasture to which the cows had been sent. I once saw my mom hurdle one of those gates, but that's a story for another day.

Anyway, on this particular day, the heat was bordering on oppressive. It was still nice to just be outside, so I offered to go get the cows so my mom could attend to other chores. I meandered down the lane, taking my time. I was about halfway down the paths when I heard a banging ahead of me. I looked up. The paths lolled upward at that point and you had to go over a small hill before the gate was visible.

Above the crest of the little hill, I saw a dust cloud rising into the air. I stopped, head cocked to the left, trying to figure out why there'd be such a big cloud of dust on a day with no wind, not even a breeze. As I watched, it drew closer and I heard a thundering noise.

Over the crest of the hill came a stampede of about fifty cows. And they were heading straight for me.

I didn't pause to scream. I bolted. I doubted my ability to outrun the herd. They had a head start and were nearly upon me by that point. Instead, I ran straight up the hill of paths. Each individual path acted as a step to propel me upward to the next level. To pull myself up faster, I grabbed the nettles that were sticking out of the hard ground, the palms of my hands poked by the needles that cover the leaves and stems of those plants.

I reached the top of the hill and turned, gasping and sobbing, to watch the cows thunder past, racing toward the barn, tails standing straight up in the air. Ever a dutiful daughter, I stumbled down the lane to make sure all the cows had headed toward the barn. Two or three were still loitering at the gate, and I asked them why they hadn't tried to kill me with their friends. They just stared with their big, brown eyes before lumbering away. I closed the gate and followed them to the barn, tear trails leaving paths down my dust-covered face.

My mom laughed as she hugged me, saying she had wondered why the cows had gotten to the barn so quickly.

I know why. It was because they were evil.

You can't trust a cow.

1 comment:

  1. LMAO! Oh gosh Nichole! Thanks for the smile today! Great way to start my day. When my vegetarian friend Loran and I were trekking the Coast to Coast, we had to go through a herd of cows. She walked past them with no problem. Me, however, they started closing in on me, bellowing at me, stamping their feet in what seemed to me to be an angry gesture. Loran looked back at me and said "they know you eat beef. They can smell it on you." LOL!