I felt as though I had just fallen asleep when I awoke to the ringing phone. For those interested, the phone in our bedroom is not a rotary, but it is attached to the wall across the room. The distance seemed like miles as I glanced at the clock. 1:45 AM. This can’t be good. I pulled myself out of bed and picked up the phone.
“You have cows out, I think.” Said the unfamiliar, female voice on the other end.
My mind didn’t quite register what she said. I think that she understood, as she gave me a moment and then went on, “We just drove by your place, and saw the cows up the road. Do you guys pasture up there?”
“Yes, we do. Honey?” I called over to Xandy hoping that he’d awaken. He barely moved.
“I looked for your number on the internet. We live on a farm, too, so I know that you’d probably want to know.”
“Thanks so much.” I hung up and called to my husband again. This time I added, “the cows are out up the road” to the end of my pleading. He jumped out of bed and dressed within moments.
Let me pause here to explain a little of our grazing practices. Right now we have cows in three different areas. Most are behind our house, some are across the street in our upper pasture, and five are up the road at the neighbors property. It is the latter that caused Friday evening’s troubles.
“Good luck.” I think I said to him as I crawled back in bed. “I’d come, but you know Kitt.” I have never been so thankful to have a toddler.
I awoke four hours later and reached over to find the other side of the bed empty. Worried, I went downstairs half-expecting to see my husband asleep on the couch, but instead found an empty house and dooryard.
He never came home.
I started to worry that maybe those docile critters were more vicious than I had previously thought.
I called him immediately from my cell.
“Where are you?”
“I slept in my truck. There’s no electricity down here.” That is an enormous problem, as the fence on that land is the flimsy single wire electric fence held up by small fiberglass poles. The only thing holding those cows in is electricity.
The house phone rang as I began to answer him.
“Honey, I have to go the phone is ringing.” 6 AM. Also not good. While I have learned that people have no problem dropping in at early hours, 7 AM is usually the earliest.
“Good Morning. You have cows out all over the place here this morning.”
Another female voice, this time that of a neighbor who lets us know when the cows are out up the road.
“I feel so bad for you guys. There’s one on the yellow line right now.” She said as she hung up. I called Xandy and let him know he needed to find them. I began to feel helpless.
After another hour passed. I called Xandy again, this time to ask him if he needed me to call his father.
“He’s already here. I called him after I got off the phone with you.”
That also can’t be good. My father-in-law lives an hour away.
“Still no electricity?”
I went to the freezer downstairs and took out a pound of bacon. It was going to be a long day.
Over eggs later, as his father went to buy extension cords, I learned of my husband’s plight the night before. It seems as though the electrical ground wire that powers the electric fence no longer works which allowed the cows to knock down the flimsy wires and leave the pasture.
“I didn’t have a flashlight, and I couldn’t get them to follow me. I came back to the barn and got some hay. It worked for a while.” He told himself he had two options: leave the cows and go back to bed or sleep there in his truck in case they got out again. He opted for option two. They later escaped, again, this time across the road to a nearby brook. He knew that he needed help when he saw that, and called in his father for reinforcements.
“I started to wonder if our cattle had become carnivores.” I told him.
His father returned with supplies and told his own past story of escaped critters.
“I had a couple of work horses that got out around 6 AM and the fog was thick,” he told me. “Cows, at least, are afraid of the road. Horses, are not because they are used to being on it. Those horses took off running up the middle of the road. THAT was scary.” The farmer’s example of a fish tale, I supposed.
Xandy came back in from feeding the critters in the barn and headed back out with his father to fix the electricity, which happened finally by 12:30 P.M. Xandy was asleep on the couch by 1:00 P.M. This time, I was able to let him sleep.
Until the next cow emergency, I thought. Which, thankfully, has yet to happen.