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Friday, September 16, 2011

Mocha's sweet tooth brings trouble


If one of our cows breaks out of the fenced pasture, the rest of the group start bawling and mooing until the escapee returns. We sleep with a fan on at the other side of the house, so we don’t hear much barnyard activity at night. Our neighbours, however, have a front row seat to the excitement. At 2 in the morning, the runaway cow was in their back yard.
All of the noise had Julie thinking that one of the cows was being attacked. The mooing and moaning continued intermittently throughout the wee hours of the morning, probably eliciting a stream of nightmares for our neighbours. Finally, at 7am, Julie called to tell me that one of our bulls was in her yard. I assured her that we didn’t have a bull on the farm right now so not to worry—and the one we had was a big pussycat anyway—but I would be right over.
The Farmer and I jumped into our farm gear and he headed out the driveway while I went through the barnyard to shut off the electric fence. Julie and the Farmer cornered the cow who turned out to be Mocha, our tame three-year-old. I grabbed a bucket of sweet feed, opened the gate and shook the grain, calling the cow’s name. Her head popped up from the long grass and she came bounding over the meadow like a pup. Soon she was back in the barnyard, happily snarfing down her reward. The Farmer just shook his head.
On my way back through the stable barn that acts as a gateway to the barnyard, I found a huge fresh cowplop. Mocha had obviously been trying to return to the barnyard on her own during the night. I argued in her defense that she wasn’t such a bad cow after all.
The Farmer grumbled that he would have to walk the perimeter of the cow pasture before work, to find the spot where Mocha broke through the electric fence. He found it, at the very back corner of the three fields that we have sectioned off for the cows. In an attempt to reach a fragrant apple tree heavy with fruit on the other side of the barrier, Mocha had crushed the fence against the live wire, thus rendering it ineffective. Then she had gingerly stepped over it and feasted on the apples. After her snack, she probably wasn’t sure how to re-enter the field so she had followed a path through the forest, up along the side of the pasture toward the road. There she had entered the neighbours’ property, probably sending all of their various exotic showdogs into a barking frenzy.
The Farmer did a quick repair of the fence, with the plan to return and fix it properly on the weekend.
The next day we got another call. Mocha was in the front field again, next to the neighbours’ house. She appeared to be eating something on the ground beside the silage bales. Apples. The perfume had attracted her to her new favourite treat.
“If this cow cannot stay inside an electric fence, we will have to sell her,” the Farmer warned. We both felt bad that the cow kept disturbing the neighbours. It’s a good thing that Julie still finds the farm animals “enchanting”, because she often discovers a wandering bovine, Donkey or turkey in her yard.
Mocha is my favourite cow. I hate to think of her going to market so soon. I had planned to keep her for years, allowing her to contribute to the propagation of our growing herd. “Maybe we just need to re-do the wire to move it farther away from the fence,” I suggested. “And the apples will all be gone soon anyway.” If we put up a bale of whiskey-scented silage in the cow’s feeder I’m sure Mocha will stay home.

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