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Friday, October 7, 2016

There's a cow in the middle of the road...

The Friday before Thanksgiving we reached a high of 25 degrees in the sunshine. It was one of those days with absolutely no respect for the date on the calendar. Unlike some areas of Saskatchewan that were digging out of over two feet of snow, however, we were sunning ourselves.

Perhaps it was the uncharacteristically warm weather heightening the aroma of ripe apples and tomatoes on the vine. Maybe it was the sound of the tractors on the neighbouring fields, taking the soybean off. Whatever it was, the autumn fever was driving our farm animals crazy.

One of our cows (not Mocha this year – I guess she is getting old and lazy) keeps breaking out of the barnyard and wandering into the yard in search of something different to eat. She spends her time leisurely grazing on our lawn or the neighbour’s, before heading into the cornfield or under the apple tree for dessert. When I confront her she just stares at me. She knows she is in trouble but she also knows she has time. I have to go and get my boots on and I have to open the gates to the yard. She heads down the driveway and turns right to stroll up the road. I have to get her before a car whips around the corner. I start running through the pasture to head her off at the pass. Like I need this excitement this morning. I just had my hair done.

I grab a stick and whack it on the fencepost, being careful not to come in contact with the electric wire. The force of the Gallagher would send me flipping backward into last week. I’m thinking, I don’t need to be in the hospital this weekend. We have about 40 people coming for dinner.

The cow sees me. She looks surprised – alarmed, even, to note that I have made it so far ahead of her down the field. With just a fence between us, she now feels her freedom is threatened. She turns tail and hops over the stone fence, re-entering the neighbour’s yard. I hear their tiny dogs barking in the house. I can see their little furry faces in the window, their mouths wide open. Oh well, at least the cow is off the road.

I ran back up to the barn, whacking the fence as I go to push the cow up the field. She decides to check the gate into the barnyard, which I managed to swing open for her before my cross-country sprint. Predictably, she stops trotting and strolls through the gate. I hop the fence and push the gate closed behind her.

“Bad girl!” I holler, and she moos something rude in response as she joins her friends at the new hay bale the Farmer put out before he had to leave. He had an appointment to bring turkeys to the processor and he was running late. Seems someone left their door open and they decided to seize the moment too. I wish I had seen my husband running around the field, herding his turkeys. That would have been worth catching on video.

This is the third time this year we have had escapee animals – and with them wandering toward the roadway, it’s a bit of a concern. We will have to take some time this weekend to walk our fence line and shore it up where we see breaks. There are a few more weeks of wonderful smells to tempt my cows into bad behavior. Once it snows, they stay home.

I guess it is time to decide which of our dozen calves will be heading to market next month. Normally we send all the males but it depends on beef prices. We cut into our winter hay storage during this summer’s drought so I know we are not flush with food for winter. It would help if we had less mouths to feed.

It doesn’t help that our bull has developed the habit of turning the hay feeders over. Once the hay is on the ground, the animals just use it for a lovely plush bed. Dono likes the way the metal feels on his head. He spends the day pushing rusty old antique farm implements, fallen trees and tractors around the yard.

I think it’s time to say goodbye to him too. A new bull will be on the job for mating season 2017.

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