Friday, November 4, 2011

Until the cows come home...

How many times I said I would be cleaning until the cows come home? I have fabulous news. Today, they came home. No more cleaning for me! Whoopeeeee! Wait, maybe it doesn't count if this is not technically their home.

If you know me, or follow this blog, you probably know that we have no livestock here right now. We moved our horses out in June or so, due to the flood, and though our fence is still standing...sort-of, it is not supposed to contain any domesticated animals. Our neighbours, however, have cattle and they share a fence line with us. They are black angus cattle, from my limited understanding of bovines. That is, they are black, so in my estimation, they must be black angus.

We have known for quite some time that the cattle in the area are quite taken with our property. Every time we walk down our driveway to wait for Cody's bus, we see hoof prints on our driveway, and frequently they are fresh. There is cow poop in our back yard. Additionally, we hear mooing very close by, and given that we have 80 acres, it's not hard to tell they are not far enough to be off our land. The boys once spotted on on our driveway, and the other night, Mike saw some in our yard, though I don't know how he saw them given their solid black colour and the darkness of night in the country.

But today the cows crossed a line. Our fence line, to be exact. Okay, that's the same line they had crossed many times in the past, but today they did it in broad daylight. They filed down the horses' path to the area by the round pen and began grazing. Three at first, then a fourth appeared. And then a fifth. They made themselves right at home, and why not? They have obviously been living here for quite some time now.
There's the first little guy, peeking at the house. Actually, I think that was the second or third. The others were already past the play structure. These are young animals, but quite big. Given that we have had a bear sighting by our driveway, I'd really freak out if I ran into one of these in the dim early morning light.

They provided some entertainment for a while as they showed off their bovine intellects. Note the huge gap in the fence where they could easily come in and out. Do you think they used it? Not even once. Instead, they squeezed between the top and bottom wire of the electric fence, (sadly turned off right now), and also, to my great irritation, between the top and bottom rails of the wooden fence. Seriously? The rails were bending to accommodate the bulk of their bodies. I had visions of our fence being destroyed.

Incidentally, doesn't our round pen look lovely? One year ago, brand new. Now, full of marsh and reeds, looking like something that was abandoned thirty years ago. You can see in the above picture that the back gate was closed. It was not chained, but just sitting in the closed position. Once four of the five cattle got inside the round pen, by busting through the electric fence on the other side and coming around through the open gate, the boys went outside and screamed on the deck, panicking the animals. I thought it was kind of funny until they somehow busted right through the closed gate. Huh? I don't even know how they did it. Have a look at the next picture and you'll see the result.


Zoom in on this shot and you will see the gate hanging, not even remotely attached to the hinges anymore. I'm not used to cattle. I'm a horse person, and horses don't do stuff like this. Cows are impressively stupid, and they don't seem to have a high degree of physical sensitivity either, hence the reason they go ahead and crawl through barbed wire fences without a second thought. (Or even a first thought, I'm guessing.) You can also see in the above photo that one of them is trying to get through the wooden fence, which it did. Repeatedly. Back and forth. Apparently it couldn't quite decide which side of the fence had the greener grass. Too bad they didn't check out the front yard, where almost all of the grass is green, unlike the stuff they were eating. 

Perhaps the most disturbing revelation I had in all of this had to do with our dog. Radar. Big scary german shepherd type. Here's a picture. Okay, two pictures. 


Multiple times in the last few weeks I have assured Cody and myself that Radar would never put up with any animal in our yard, let alone cows. He hates cows. In the mornings, when we take the trek down our winding rugged driveway in the trees, I take Radar on leash. Every time. A few days ago on our cold, dark walk, Cody expressed his fear to me over and over again. I brushed it off, being the mom, and made it seem silly to be afraid. But people, we live in the boonies, and the reality is, we were walking down what is not much more than a wide trail in the bush, in the pitch black. A trail where a bear has been spotted in the past, and an area that is reported to have bobcats, and where we have seen large coyotes that are unafraid of humans. (Not to mention the number of times we hear them, nearly every day, very close to the yard and sometimes in the yard.) When Cody started saying things like "Are those eyes??" and other lines right out of horror movies, my own imagination started to run a little bit. I laughed at him, but I started to get that feeling like there really were eyes watching us. He asked "What is that sound?" and "Is something following us?" and I was beginning to feel jittery.

My consolation? I told Cody to look at Radar, our big protector. I told him in no uncertain terms that Radar would react with extreme barking and growling if there was anything at all in the trees, and that was why I brought him along. I believed my own words. I was still creeped out walking back to the house that morning in the darkness, but I had my big dog, so what did I need to fear?

Today, Radar shattered my false security in him. When we spotted the cattle in the yard, I told the boys Radar must not have known they were there or he would be barking and chasing them. I had seen him do it many times in the past when we were walking down the road and he saw them in their own fence. He hates cows. But Radar was nowhere to be seen. After a very long time, we saw him come trotting around the back of the house on his path...the narrow path that he has literally worn around the house from circling it. We are certain that is part of his ritual of making his ownership known. If there are coyotes nearby, he spikes his back (which makes him look deceptively formidable) and trots around the house over and over again as though drawing a line in the sand that they cannot cross. I guess he thought that would work today too. He had a very large ball in his mouth too, the size of a coconut. That was his way of saying, "Look at me. I have a ball. You don't have a ball. This is my house. Stay away from my house. Please don't take a step towards me or I will have to take my ball to a safe place and hide until you are gone." He did one round, and that was the last I saw of him. A single bark or growl would have sent them running, but no. He had a self-imposed gag. 

Now I know the truth about my dog. He is utterly useless as a guard dog. The next time I take him down the driveway in the dark, I will be just as scared as Cody. Perhaps even more, seeing I know what's out there and Cody does not. I think maybe Radar needs a new name. I was thinking of Foghorn Leghorn. What do you think?



1 comment:

Heidi said...

Hahahaha! Such a funny post!!! Love it! =)