Cow Emergency

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.

Livestock Adventures

If There’s A Cow Emergency…

The weekend after Memorial Day is my husband’s annual “family fishing” trip. I say “family” because I was told from almost the minute we started dating that there were “no spouses and no dogs” allowed on the trip. Fishing is in quotation marks as I don’t think much fishing takes place. I think it should be called the “family drinking, sitting, gorging, and smoking” trip. They drink, sit, gorge and smoke for four days, and with the husband away, I am left to tend the farm.

This will be the first time that I will spend a few days alone on the farm. Well, not actually alone, I suppose. At first count we have 1 baby, 2 dogs, 1 spayed barn cat, 2 kittens from the spayed barn cat (the vet says that there is a possibility that the cat had two uteruses….two uteruses….seriously?!?!?!), 2 pigs, and a herd of cattle – a few of which are severely pregnant. I keep asking my husband how many cows we have and he just says “a bunch.” Thanks, that’s helpful when I am trying to figure out how many should be in the pasture. The herd has actually been broken up into three groups — one here, one across the street in a pasture up in the woods, and one up the road in a neighbor’s pasture. We got rid of the chickens in the fall as my dog kept using them as a chew toy– every once and a while I still find feathers from her victims.

The first night, I had to teach a literature course at the local community college. Xandy is usually home by the time I have to leave for class, but this week he is “camping,” so my mother and sister agreed to tag-team babysit. My sister had been babysitting Kitt since she was about three months old when Xandy and I had our first big “date-night” out together.  I, silly me, was worried about the baby. I ran around frantically showing my sister everything there was to know about Kitt — “Be sure to turn on the light machine after you feed her,” and “She likes this cow toy especially,” and “Make this face if she starts to cry.” You get the picture.

Xandy, however, had other things to think about, “If it’s a kid emergency call Sherry’s cell. If it’s a cow emergency call my cell.”

I remember Chrissy’s face, “A cow emergency? What the hell’s a cow emergency?!?”

Xandy just smiled, “You’ll know.”

My mother planned to arrive at 4:00PM, about 30 minutes from when I wanted to leave for class with my sister relieving her at 6. My mother-in-law had stopped by earlier in the day with an emergency of her own and left me with Xandy’s brother’s dog Molly. That brought the dog count up to three. I mentally noted that I had to add Molly to the list when I have to (as Xandy puts it) “feed things.”  I figured that I would feed the 2 pigs, 3 cats, and 3 dogs after my mother arrived. She could change and feed the baby, and then I could change myself.

I told my mother and sister that I would pay them with food, so I was finishing up the baked haddock meal I had decided upon when my first babysitter arrived. My plan worked well. I put on my sexy purple rubber rain boots that Xandy had given me for my birthday from Tractor Supply (as my sister said, “Nothing says love like a waffle maker and some gum rubbers”) and headed out to the barn.  I followed my husband’s instructions exactly –“Turn on AM1490 so that the critters know it is time to feed things. Hopefully, there will be clarinets. Everyone loves clarinets. Take a five gallon bucket to the hand pump and fill it ¾’s full. You’ll look like a true farm wife out there on the pump! (He laughed here. He’s been slowly trying to train me since the day he met me, but I don’t train well) Fill the grain bucket and put both in the pig trough. Give the cats fresh water and food. The cows should be fine on pasture. It’s not too hard. At least I got rid of the sheep.” The “feeding things” went off without a hitch. I even had the dogs and my mother finished in a timely fashion.

Now that I was in charge of both kid and cow emergencies I was sure that I would be receiving panicked calls every ten minutes. That didn’t happen though. The only thing that occurred that first night was another surprise addition.

“How many kittens did you say you had?” My sister grinned.

“Two. One black and one orange tabby.”

“You realize there are two orange kittens in the barn.”

“Come on, you can’t be serious.”

She was.

New count: 1 baby, 3 dogs, 1 spayed barn cat, 3 kittens from the spayed barn cat, 2 pigs, and a herd of cattle. I took the phone up to bed and prayed that no one called to tell me the cows were out.

To be continued…

Here’s a pic of the miracle kittens — the first two anyway: