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Magic words to get farmers moving fast

Posted Tuesday, February 2, 2010, at 3:02 PM

Though the years I've learned there is nothing that gets people moving

around a farm faster than one simple declaration: "The Cows are Out."

It sends people scampering in all directions to find clothes, boots,

coveralls, gloves, a gator and a dog. In fact, besides the phrase, "Dinner is ready," I don't think there is any way to get people around our farm moving any faster.

The fact is we, and most of our neighbors, keep relatively secure fences. However, through the years I've heard the phrase "Cows are out," approximately 1,298 times. (Just an estimate, of course.)

Luckily many of those times it has turned out that the cows didn't belong to us. I've found the breakouts usually fall into a few different categories:

--Accidental Tourist: This is the cow who truly believes the old adage "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence." She uses her long neck and often, her outstretched tongue to find a way to reach over the fence.

On her lucky days, a combination of her 1,500 pound body, a high place in the pasture or a weak spot in the fence and she can quickly find herself in a lush patch of unmowed grass on the road bank.

Lucky for us, the "accidental tourist" is usually more than happy to rejoin her pasture mates after her belly is full or when she sees us heading her way -- whichever comes first. Most of the time she points out the weak spot in the fence, barreling back through the hole as we get close and she realizes her luck just ran out.

--Repeat Offender: Sometimes the "accidental tourist" can become turn into this, especially if we fail to find her secret spot in the fence.

Particularly determined "Repeat Offenders" often find themselves being

resold at the local sale barn, which is perhaps the reason they became so enterprising in the first place.

My favorite (and hubbies least favorite) "Repeat Offender" was our oldest son's first show calf, Whitey. He figured out that by licking the chain holding the gate closed, he could eventually get it undone. His favorite place to roam was our backyard and my freshly planted garden.

When he heard us coming out the door, he would quickly high tail it back through the open gate, looking at us with that fake innocence of a three-year--old caught in the cookie jar.

--Internal Security Breach: These are usually the worst cases and involve a large number of cows and calves. It's almost always caused by an open fence, left open accidently, of course, by "Not Me," that invisible third son (and second spouse) who is always around to cause the havoc, but never around for the cleanup.

Because, of course, there is safety in numbers, even the tamest group of cows enjoy their illegal romp through the countryside, while we and usually a group of neighbors convince them the fun is over -- it's time to come home.

Usually after a few laps through the corn field (and my garden), they tamely walk back through the open gate.

--Relief at Another's Expense: These are the times when we race to the cow or group of cows only to find out they belong to a neighbor. The toughest part of this scenario, though, is to find out just where the animals belong.

Although there are fewer now, there was a time when six different herds were close by and it wasn't uncommon to hear those words, "The cows are out."

Since they won't identify themselves, and most herds were predominately black, finding just whose cows they were could sometimes prove challenging.

More than once I've called the wrong farmer out of a far away field only to discover I had the wrong owner. (Oops,sorry!) Through the years, we've helped others chase their cows through cemeteries, church lots, neighbor's yards and along railroad tracks, tripping over a skunk or two in the dark on the way.

It's an interesting thing about chasing wayward cows. When they belong to the neighbor, it's an adventure and almost fun. However, when it's been our cows roaming loose and the shoe has been on the other foot, I don't remember that much fun. In fact, I've tried to put most of those chases out of my mind.

I guess the cows had it right all along: The grass really is greener on

the other side of the fence -- especially if it's not your fence.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Marcia,

I looked out the front room window the other afternoon watching my husband's uncle open a gate to run the tractor through. Low and behold one cow escaped. My husband then comes around the house to help his uncle. He opened another gate closer to the cow to let her back in. Uncle moved the tractor away from that gate scaring the remaining 90% of the cows in the area out the gate he had originally opened. Now most of the cows are in the yard and, of course, heading toward the road. As I'm sure you know getting one cow back in can be a challenge, but getting a herd of cows back in is frustrating (at least for the farmers but kind of funny from the vantage point of the front room window). After watching the two men try to wrangle probably 35 cows back into the fence while trying to keep the other few cows in I thought I should call my nephew for backup...but just was I was about to dial his number I saw the last cow finally dart back through the gate and join the others in the pasture. At this point both men scurried to the gate to get it shut before there were any further escapees. At least I didn't have to go out and hop on a 4-wheeler to help. Usually I get told I should have stayed in the house for all the help I was...so most of the time I do just that...stay in the house - and watch (and laugh)!

-- Posted by Typesetter on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 3:47 PM

Enjoyed reading your story very much. I've helped chase cows back home a few times. You are right. It is more fun when they are someone else's cows! [and it is warm!]

-- Posted by animal on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 5:08 PM

It has been my experience that most of them wait until dinner is ready, or a good show is on TV, or better yet when I was showered and ready for or already in bed. Cows have very poor timing! I have ran cows back in (that weren't ours) in a dress and heels!

Great story!

-- Posted by litlmissme on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 5:45 PM

Typesetter, I should have put that in my article - the "old wait till they are bringing hay in and run out of the gate plan!!" And you're right, watching it from afar is really funny. Animal, I'm glad you enjoyed reading this. You're right it is a lot more fun when it's warm (but not too warm!!)

Litlmissme - I should have included that in my article too. You're right, they usually do wait until you are ready to go somewhere and all dressed up - or warm and cozy in bed!! Thanks to all of you for reading!

Marcia

-- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 8:57 PM

If my husband happens to have on a brand new pair of shoes the cows will inevitably get out and he will have to quickly run out and traipse through the mud to get them back in...or the cows have already been out and he traipses through something else before he comes back in the house.

-- Posted by Typesetter on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 3:19 PM

It has mostly been my experience that the cattle only got out when "the farmers" were extinct. Luckily, as we live on the highway I (most of the time) would have someone stop - though have had people come to house to report one out and have driven 2 miles either direction and found nothing (I ?'d some of these peoples mental faculties!!). I always told my father-in-law (when he had the herd) that I would always get them back in, but no guarantee that they would be in the same pasture area they came from - that was his job to resort!!!

-- Posted by the26er on Tue, Feb 16, 2010, at 4:18 PM


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MARCIA GORRELL
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