Okay, so it might be the greatest tale in the world, but probably only if you can picture it properly.
I don't know what it is about me taking a vacation that motivates the cows to go above and beyond their regular shenanigans.
"I say, old girl, did you hear that the mistress is going to Tennessee to spend a wonderful weekend in Gatlinburg with her girl friends?"
"Oh? Jolly good."
"What kind of surprise should we send her off with do you think?"
"Oh I know. Why don't we all break out through two fences and go graze in the soy bean field. That'll give her an awfully good fright. Don't you think?"
"Oh, now that's a bloody marvelous idea old girl."
No. I don't know why my cows are British, but they are. Deal with it.
So, the night before I left for Gatlinburg I heard a moo echoing across the hills. I thought to myself, "That sounds like it came from the bottoms. That's impossible. It must be a trick of acoustics. The cows can't be down there." I didn't even stop to lock up the puppies. I jumped into the Mule and drove down the lower road (basically a field road), just to convince myself I was hearing things.
I probably should have given you a spoiler alert, I wasn't hearing things. I got to the bottoms and looked across the drainage ditch to see the ENTIRE herd grazing in the bean field. I'm not just talking grown cows, the old girls brought all the calves with them on their little jaunt. I saw red and spun around as fast as I could, racing back up towards the house, passing the puppies who were having BIG fun running free down the road for the first time. I was momentarily convinced that I would never see them again, but you know what? I had more important things to worry about. The cows were out. In the BEAN field. Is there a grass fed exception for when your cows are jerks and get out into the bean field? Does it count if there aren't bean pods yet? Thank God the Missouri cows are good cows. Ugh. I sped past the pups and left them for dead.
I grabbed a change of shoes and threw grain at the horses to keep them at the front of the paddock, and not at the back where I planned to open the gates and rustle the cows through like a cowboy out of a Roy Rodgers song.
What actually happened was me getting to the bottom of the hill and finding that my ATV wasn't quite all terrain enough for the job. So I took off running and screeching like a banshee at the herd of cows. Yippee ki yay my friends.
I swear that the cows think I am possessed.
Between my heavy breathing and my cursing I am sure that the neighbors probably think I am too.
Who am I to argue with results though? I was able to circle around the herd and start it moving out of the bean field and up the hill towards the hay field without having an aneurism or passing out from lack of oxygen, so I consider it a win. I'm really not a very good runner, but when the cows are out I somehow turn into a cross country athlete capable of leaping downed trees and ditches in a single bound. It's kinda like the Matrix, only with spider webs and low limbs instead of bullets.
So, I go charging up the hill after the cows waving my arms and any deadfall I can grab around in a weird move reminiscent of an ancient tribal dance that is FREAKISHLY effective at making the cows head towards home. Only instead of chanting, picture it with Tourette's. That's me when the cows are out. Then I start winging the deadfall at their heels, because I am out of shape and I can't run anymore. I am also not able to hit the broadside of a barn, let alone a heifer clocking at 35mph. It motivates them though. Those ole gals ignored my open gate and ran straight through the vinyl fencing (twice) to get back in their pasture.
But the bulls didn't.
Brisket and Dale decided to get in a headbutting contest all the way up the hill. If you haven't ever seen two 2,500lb animals attack each other it is a thing of beauty. It is incredible. It is majestic. It is EXTREMELY infuriating when you just want them to go back in the damned fences where they belong because you had other things to do tonight rather than chase them all over God's creation.
There is a certain level of mad that a usually rational human being can get to when working with livestock. At this level of mad it doesn't matter that the creatures you are working with can very easily kill you. I think it must harken back to our primal days, because you transform into a predator. Prey animals must fear you. Long story short, you become a total moron and decide that you can take a 2,500lb pissed off hunk of beef. It doesn't matter that the other 2,500lb hunk of beef is having problems standing up to your chosen target. You're an apex predator and you will be respected, dammit! Or die trying I guess. (FYI: I don't recommend doing this. In retrospect it was incredibly stupid.)
So what did I do? I took my stick and I threw it at Brisket's nose.
Yes. Brisket, the bull that was smart enough to try to drown the other bull in the lake last year. Brisket who can push Dale through a high tinsel fence. Brisket the bull who shoulders and charges into the tractor and budges it.
I hit that bull in the face with a half rotten stick from 40 feet away.
He turned and looked at me and I about peed my pants. Oh, he was mad. How dare I have the audacity to mar his money maker with a stick? I suddenly regretted my actions and tried to figure out where I could run that he couldn't get me. The Mule was too far away. The board fence wouldn't slow him down much, but maybe? Nope. I was going to die this day, trampled to death in a hayfield. I faced my fate's narrowed and slightly hate filled brown eyes, my last thought's prepared to be: "There are worse ways to go I guess." and "I should have grabbed another stick."
Then it happened. You know those moments that can only occur in movies, like when the bad guy is crossing street and gets hit by a chance truck or a train? What happened next was like that. Only it was Dale who broadsided Brisket and shoved him right through the fence. One minute Brisket had turned to face me, and the next his eyes bulged out and Dale was churning up dirt as he rammed his big black head into Brisket's side repeatedly, half tossing him forward. Brisket forgot his hatred of me and tried to turn to face Dale, but he was well within the confines of the paddock before he broke free to lock heads again.
I stared at the hole in the fence amazed. He didn't even break new boards! It was incredible. It was magical. I was alive! I guess he owed me from the day I hit Brisket in the head with rocks and dirt clods until he stopped trying to drown him, but still. Dale is officially my favorite cow. Sorry Sweetie Pie, I love your hugs but he saved my life.
And that, ladies and gentlemen is how I got covered in seed ticks and spent my entire vacation itching.
Oh, and the puppies made it home safe and exhausted from their big adventure. God, I LOVE livestock!