Saturday, September 18, 2010

So Close, and Yet, So Far.


Such tasty, mouth-watering steaks!

But when they are still on the hoof, and not your own... you must resist.

"Mom! The cattle are over here again!"
"Go chase them back and repair the hole."

"Mom! The cattle are over here again."
"Go chase them back and find the other hole and fix it."

"Mom! The cattle are over here again!"
"I thought you fixed the holes."
"There's no more fence left. It's all down."

These cattle belong to our nice neighbor, who is very busy, and trying to work full time while taking care of many acres of land. He's helped us a lot in the past few years.

We had half a roll of barbed wire, so we went up the hill to put up fence.

Problem was, Michael had the flu. Poor guy, up there working on fencing with me with a fever, body aches, and exhausted. We did about 75 feet of fenceline, good and tight.

This is no easy task. The scrub trees have completely overgrown the fenceline, so you have to hack them away first.

And saw off the branches that are too thick for the loppers.

Then we returned to the house, grateful we had the supplies to do it, and got Michael some rest.

That night we did not go to Bible study, as you can lose a lot of friends sharing the flu bug. On top of suffering FROM the disease, having people glare at you while they are curled up in a fetal position is a real downer. The plan was to just go do office cleaning, get home, and get to bed early.

"Mom, the cattle are over here again!"


I'm OK. Really.

I'm hoping to take care of this quickly. I mean, we'd just repaired a lot of fence. It had to be a small issue, right? RIGHT?

I head up, to chase the cattle back through. They see me coming. It's like the showdown at the OK corral. Only neither one of us is OK. Most of them give their point of entry away...

"Look! The strange creature on two legs is coming! She looks really mad this time. Let's get outta' here!"

I see it. It's a small place. But one cow freaks. It's young. It's stupid. It's buzzard bait as far as I'm concerned. It sails past the hole, and foolishly heads toward the brand new fencing we just put up earlier that day.

Those of you who do not know cows might think, "Good. She'll see the new fence, figure it out, and head back to the hole with her good-for-nothing buddies."


Not only would you be discounting the amazing lack of brain that exists in the common cow, but you do not know one vital piece of information. You see, the broken fence is on a steep slope. On their side, it's 5 feet high, but on our side, when the cow looks at the fence as the only obstacle between her and, "Sanctuary!" (Done in my best Hunchback of Notre Dame imitation.), it's only about 2 feet high. I smell impending doom a mile away. So I go past, up the hill, and around to gently encourage her back this way, before all hell breaks loose.

Sadly, my extremely helpful and sick offspring was not aware of all this when he came up after me to help. You guessed it. He came through the thicket, and that cow went straight through 5 strings of freshly fastened barbed wire.

Oh, she didn't feel a thing. She was quite satisfied with herself. It was all I could do not to spit nails. Needless to say, our plan of getting home early for rest was out the window.

The new hole? They had actually decided to simply shove between the trees and break the old wire strands. That's bad news. That means they've learned the most evil trick a farm animal can learn. If you push on it long enough, it will break. This is something you NEVER want a farm animal to figure out.

I was trembling in fear. I'm out of barbed wire, and all the farm supply shops are closed by now. Oh, did I mention that all 30 head were milling about behind me, just waiting for me to leave so they could come over again?

Oh, yeah. It's raining.

Did I also mention that we had already robbed our incredulous horses of their own mineral block and sacrificed it over the fence to the cow gods?

They'd already licked most of it in the last two days anyhow. We'll buy the horses a fresh one this week, but I'm not sure they'll ever trust us again. And I'm pretty sure they hate cows, too.

Oh, and another little tidbit? My sister was in town from out of state, and my uncle, whom I've not seen in decades, too. I did not get to go see them. I was busy with precious little mooing things.

WHAT are you looking at?

And the age old question. "Why?"

They have a hundred acres of lush grass. Just look at this!

What do they see when they look at our side? Nothing but a line of scrubby trees.

They have water. Apparently not as tasty as our water, though. And we've already sacrificed our mineral block. We don't have enough grass for two horses, but 30 head of cattle want to chomp the life out of every bit of our soil before returning home. I guess it's like eating out; not as good as home-cooking, but more fun.

Here's the line where they wait to get in. Notice the lack of vegetation due to the milling about.

It is at this time I realize this post is getting long. But this is my WATERLOO! Custer's Last Stand!

Now, where was I?

Oh, yes, trembling in fear...

They'd broken the four strands of rusty barbed wire that were strung between two trees, about 3 feet apart. I had little hope at this point of convincing them they should not do this. Several of them are part Longhorn. They look to be a Longhorn/Angus cross. Nice... tasty... cows....

With horns, they learn to hook things and it doesn't hurt at all. Great for them, bad for us.

(Ah, I see I missed one of the sneaky buggers, head down, in that photo.)

I had just enough wire to cover the last 20 feet of fenceline where there were several bad places, but no time to clear it. So I cut across the corner, and prayed it would hold til the next day when I could go buy more wire and get home to do it properly.

It held, though I know they were plotting something anyhow.

Upon coming home the next morning from town, where tons of things went wrong, and actually ended up sobbing in front of my strong, yet impressionable young man, and had to go shopping with sunglasses on, I sent him to work on his schoolwork and I proceeded uphill to fix that fence or die trying.

Just start lopping where we left off yesterday.

The horrible thing about scrub red cedar is that is grows everywhere. However, the GREAT thing about scrub red cedar is ~ that includes in the fencelines. So you have naturally occurring posts that will just continue to get more and more numerous as the years go on. So I didn't need any posts, just wire and fence staples.

When I'd just about cleared the last 100 feet of line, my dad and uncle arrived. Dad was able to leave mom for a while with my sister, and my uncle declared this was the only way he was going to be able to see me. It was like the cavalry. Wasn't their motto "Always in the nick of time" or something?

Lopping through 2" branches was a lot more fun when someone with muscles was doing it, so I let them finish that up, as well as the sawing, while I used the pruning shears. And it no time, we were ready to begin stringing.

It's done. And I've not seen hide nor hair of those cattle ever since.

Good fences make good neighbors! (That's the country motto.)




  1. Wow! I would have cried WAY before you did!!!
    Maybe, perhaps, some of that good beef will be yours? Like a good neighbor might do?

  2. Oh my! I'm glad you were able to get some help! I would say that I missed you Wednesday, but I wasn't there either.(At least I got to see you Thursday!) I had to practice music, and we ran late. I got there probably right after they had finished praying.

    I hope you stay well, and hope to see you tomorrow! Love ya~

  3. Oh! Faith,
    Cows can be such a pain sometime but it's especially bad for you since they aren't even yours*sigh*
    I did giggle at your photoshopped picture, LOL! Maybe next time you see good neighbor, you could off the cuff say, what kinda deal will you make us on half a beef, since we've helped feed them and fence them out*wink*
    I'm thankful none of the cows we've owned are fence pushers, jumper or just plain ole fence busters.
    HUGS and remember most cow, unless protecting a calf, will move away if yelled at.

  4. You poor thing! I hope they give you a calf or a side of beef for your efforts. Then again look on the bright side...maybe you shared your flu with the of them could be aching and running a fever right now! hahahahahaha Hope you feel better!

  5. Cyn,

    I might have cried sooner as well, but I was too busy trying to keep upright on a hill covered in fresh cow dung. Ice skating's got nothing on that! Could have been worse, since girlhood, I've landed in it on more than one occasion. LOL


  6. Leah,

    Yeah, sounds like Wednesday was cozy. Those are nice sometimes. But we missed everyone!


  7. Kelle,

    I'm so glad you are in possession of compliant cattle at this time. I'll never forget one heifer we had many years ago. There was no fence that girl could NOT leap over. She was incredible. If there were a Cow Olympics, she'd have come away with gold. Finally sold her, and the other guy called up saying he could not keep her in a pen...

    My parents called her The Cow that Jumped Over the Moon.

    Fortunately, none of these cows are aggressive. Just pesky and filled with wanderlust.


  8. SM,

    Now that's an image I can go to bed smiling with! LOL


  9. Oh dear, I couldn't fence to save my life! One time we had our cow and calf and a blind cow get out of our little 3 acres into the back yard, (the front yard in off the subdivision, and I AM NOT a country girl, and my hubby was a very long way away and I knew I HAD to get those cows back in. And how do you deal with a blind one?? They wouldn't go back in the way they came out, but they were surprisingly easy and I propped up the fallen down fence with something, I can't remember what. I have chased cattle, if I have to, but only as a helper.

  10. Gramma,

    Sounds like you did it perfectly! I'd hire you as a hand any day. :o)

    Desperation is the mother of invention, they say. It's true. We never know what we are capable of.... until we have no other choice. Then we all look like super heroes.



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