I didn’t mention it at the time, but Watson and I and the girls made a quick trip to Tennessee before Christmas. Watson was supposed to go to an Akaushi farm and check out a couple of bulls for a buddy, and I was curious as to what the place looked like, so we set up a meeting with the farm manager, whom we had talked to earlier last year.
Well, when Watson and I were there, the manager, I’ll call him Adam, stood and talked to us about growing embryos in a Petri dish and dehorning and weaning and other things cattle guys are interested in.
So, I don’t know if you all remember the story I told about Julia and I on the four-wheeler and the Akaushi mama who ran along side of us, creeping me out, until I stopped suddenly, just before she cut across and we ended up stopped with her standing right in front of us. I’d had the feeling then that if I hadn’t stopped, she would have been on our laps.
That seemed like a crazy idea at the time and I kinda chalked it up to me having an over-active imagination.
Well, we’d taken our three Akaushi cows to be “flushed” which means that we bring them into heat artificially with some extra hormones to make them release multiple eggs, breed them, and then “flush” the embryos out.
The vet had mentioned about one of our cows being crazy, and it was the same cow who had stopped in front of the four-wheeler.
So in the course of the conversation with Adam, Watson mentioned about the vet and our crazy cow and Adam kinda grinned.
“Some of them are,” he said.
I was definitely interested in hearing more about that, since I’m the one who usually deals with the crazy killers while Watson is tagging and banding them.
So, Adam proceeded to tell us, “We quit using four-wheelers after the insane mamas tipped the third one over.”
(I’m thinking of Loretta and how she’d been running beside me, and how I’d stopped just as she swerved and I wonder if Julia and I were seconds away from Loretta tipping the four wheeler over on us.
I think of God’s hand of protection and how I’d stopped without a real reason. Just did it.
Anyway, Adam kept talking, saying that they’d used a gator (which is like a four wheeler with a cab and doors) only the ones they had the doors opened from the front side.
Adam shoved a lazy hand in his pocket. “It took too long to open the doors and when we left them open, it was too hard to run around the gator to get away from the charging cows.” He nodded at a gator sitting about twenty feet away. “So we took the doors off.”
Watson and I share a look. They’re really running from cows if they can’t get the doors open.
Adam crosses his arms over his chest and leans back against the holding pen fence. “Gotta be careful now. Just last week we ran to get away from a new mama, jumped in the gator and she jumped in the gator right behind us.”
Okay. Now, I’ve been around truck drivers most of my married life and they tell stories like fishermen do. Slightly, or mostly, exaggeration.
I’m not sure I believe Adam, although I had judged him as a straight-shooter and I’d liked him, too.
The hired hand who’d been standing with us spoke up. “Two weeks ago we were chasing a heifer down the aisle. She turned around and came back for the two four-wheelers we had lined up behind her. I stepped in the small space between them, thinking she’d go a different direction. She charged the gap, hooked me with her head and threw me back ten feet. Knocked me out and gave me a concussion.”
Adam told one more story about his wife. She’s a cattle girl, grew up on a farm, and is used to Angus. Well, the Akaushi are a little different and when she visited the farm one day, she climbed the holding pen fence and stepped into the pen with about twenty Akaushi steers.
Adam told her to be careful, that the Akaushi weren’t Angus and maybe she ought to get out. She was pretty confident around cows (I can relate) and told him she’d be fine. That was the last thing she said before a steer head-butted her, knocked her down and trampled over her legs. She managed to roll under the fence, and nothing was broken, but her leg was pretty much black for a week or so and she walked with a limp for a while.
I think the guys are being serious, and I left the farm that day wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into.
Anyway, this past Sunday night, Watson and I drove to Lynchburg to meet a truck driver who was bringing us three more Akaushi cows from Texas.
We’d picked them out after watching videos and Dave, the farm manager in Texas, told us that one of the ones we’d chosen was the calmest cow in their herd. I was pretty happy to hear that.
When we talked to the truck driver, he said one of the cows on the trailer was absolutely nuts – she charged the side of the trailer anytime someone walked by it.
There were five other cows on the trailer other than our three, and Watson and I were hoping that the crazy cow wasn’t ours.
We backed our trailers end-to-end and ran our cows off of his and onto ours with little trouble and drove home.
Watson backed up to the gate, I opened it and stood holding it, while he opened the back of the trailer. Now, there was a gap between the back of the trailer and the fence and usually Watson opens the endgate on the trailer and lets it fly open while he stands in the gap. For some reason – maybe because it was after ten and he was tired – he walked the gate open, leaving the gap.
So, when the first cow ran off the trailer, she turned, and, rather than running into the pasture field, she ran through the gap and out on our driveway.
Watson moves to the gap and the other two run right into the field.
I have the flashlight, so I hold it on the cow who was on the driveway, while Watson moves up along the fence to get around her and bring her back down. I go stand between the front of the truck and the fence on the other side, closing that gap, so the cow will turn and go into the field.
That was the plan, anyway.
I’m wearing my sliders because I wasn’t expecting to chase cattle, and I’m still thinking this is going to be a simple turn-the-cow-and-she-goes-where-we-want. After all, all my experience with cows (except for #16) says that they’re more afraid of you than you are of them, and they only get aggressive when they have a calf to protect, which none of these did.
So, yeah, I was kinda surprised when the cow comes my way, never even turning her head to look at the open gate. I wave my hands and, rather than turning like I expect, she lowers her head and runs straight toward me.
I was not expecting that.
She’s fifteen feet away, running at me. I shout at her, wave my hands and, honest to goodness, she runs faster. So, I’m between the pickup and the fence, and I make a snap decision to stop trying to turn the cow and start trying to get out of her way. I can see Watson in the beam of my flashlight, just standing there watching.
So, I just want to stop here for a second and say, I know it’s a thing with “modern” women that they want to save themselves, and they don’t need a man, and all that bunk. That’s not me. I’m totally fine with being saved. In fact, I prefer it, to be honest.
I think Watson and I have a small communication failure in our marriage that possibly needs addressed, because he was clearly expecting me to save myself. Gah. I hate it when that happens.
So, yeah. I run toward the pickup and she swerves with me. I cut and run for the fence (because the pickup is facing me and I’m too short to climb up on the hood, or that’s where I would have been and idc about the dents, etc. Sorry.)
The cow is an arm length away, I’m straight-arming her, swinging the flashlight at her (it’s all I have) and run out of my shoe trying to get away. I decide I’d rather not be slammed against the fence, so I stop before I get to it and she’s right with me, head down, and wanting to eat me, I guess. I’m not real sure about that part. We didn’t talk much.
Her head is lowered and she’s followed me as I turned and cut and I’m seriously thinking she’s not going to stop until I’m in a puddle on the ground or she’s flattened me against the fence. She’s backed me up to the point where I really don’t have any other place to go. I definitely don’t have time to turn and climb over it. And I’m pretty sure I can’t outrun her.
Anyway, if you’ve ever watched bull riding at a rodeo and have seen the rodeo clowns, they can kind of distract the bulls with a wave or a cloth or something and then run down the side of them. And that’s what I did – I slapped the flashlight on her head as hard as I could, and while she was shaking her head, a little dazed, I guess, I ran toward her and past her side.
Thankfully, she didn’t turn to chase me but ran past me, up the driveway.
Watson was annoyed with me that I let her get away. I’m shaking and thinking about emergency rooms and how I’m super glad I’m not on my way to one right now. (Although I think Watson would wait to take me until he got the cow in.)
So, it’s late, like after ten, but I call Julia because this cow is going toward the house and we need to get her in a pasture. At this point, I’m thinking that she was just scared and confused and probably didn’t really mean to act like she normally had a snack of author before bed. So, I don’t mention to Julia that this cow is nuts.
Julia and my youngest come out of the house and the noise they make turns the cow around. Watson and I have moved the truck down the driveway and parked it in front of the lower gate. He has the flashlight and gets out, standing in the gap to turn the cow.
I admit, I’m a little slower. I did manage to find my shoe and I have them both on, but there aren’t too many cows that get past me and the fact that this one did – by chasing me until I was running from her – makes me a little less confident and a little more cautious.
I’ve honestly never seen a cow act the way that one did, and I’m remembering Adam’s stories and thinking maybe he wasn’t exaggerating after all. Maybe he was as understated as I’d thought to begin with and the stories were much worse.
Watson wasn’t scared and he’s standing right in front of her as she comes back up the drive. He waves his hands and shouts to turn her into the open gate and the lower pasture field.
I’m not quite as surprised this time as she lowers her head and charges Watson.
I had left the pickup door on my side open – just a hunch based on Adam’s stories – and I duck around it, standing there, ready to jump in. I look through the window as Watson runs backward, the cow so close to him, he’s able to hit her on the head (as I did) with the flashlight. He half-turns to run, and she head-butts his side, knocking his phone out of the holder.
She almost has him cornered in the fence where it comes out and there’s no place for him to run, other than past the cow. She swipes her had at him a few more times, following him as he jigs and jags in front of her.
I come out from behind the pickup door, unsure what I’m going to be able to do to help. I yell, thinking to draw her attention to me, and the cow, thankfully, turns the other way and runs back toward our house.
By this time the girls are out and I’m pretty sure they don’t realize that we’re not dealing with the normal kind of cow and they’ll be trying to turn her around.
Yeah, they’re coming toward her, so I yell, “No! Don’t! Don’t try to turn her! Get behind the tree. GET BEHIND THE TREE!!!” They hear me the second time and they turn just as the cow lowers her head to charge them. They’re able to get to the tree and keep it between themselves and the cow, so I look at Watson.
Ha. He looks a little shell-shocked. “I lost my phone,” he says. We find it (since the girls are relatively safe behind the tree, with the cow staring at them from the other side of it).
My youngest daughter, who is at the age where she has more bravery than brains, climbs over the fence behind the tree and opens the gate to the side pasture beside the house. We’re able to get the cow in the side pasture – she ran in, ran straight across the field and straight into the fence on the other side. Thankfully, it held.
We decide to quit trying to move her and to just let her in there for the night. She’s due to freshen in six weeks and we don’t want to upset her any more than we have to.
We decide to shut the gates on the driveway, which pretty much means that she’ll be on our property in the morning, even if she breaks the boards in that field, and call it a night. It’s almost eleven, and I turn into a pumpkin at nine. (Maybe that’s why I couldn’t get away from that cow.)
After the gate is closed and tightly locked, Julia walks over to me and puts her arm around me. She’s trembling. “I don’t want to have to chase any more Akaushi cows. Ever. I’ve never been so scared in my life.”
I put my arm around her, but I can’t resist the teaching moment. “She made spiders look not-too-bad, didn’t she?”
Julia was close to crying, but she laughs at that, and, to my surprise, she agrees with me. “I’d take a spider any day over being trapped behind a tree by a cow who wants to eat me!”
The next morning – yesterday morning – when we go out at daylight, it’s snowing and the small pasture field by the house is empty. Ha.
So, Watson takes the four-wheeler and finds her in the trail pasture with our fall herd. She broke through the fence after we’d gone inside, apparently.
She’s still acting skittish, so he decides to leave her there. In the meantime, Watson gets close enough to see the number branded on her hip and looks up the videos on his phone to see which of the three she is.
He comes back up to the house and walks into the room where I’m working and says, “I have good news and bad news.”
I look up.
“The good news is that the other two cows we brought home are still in the pasture where we put them.” He pauses. For effect, I’m sure, and I’m bracing myself. Bad news can be really, really bad around here. “And the bad news is…the cow that attacked us last night is the cow that Dave said was the calmest one in their herd.”
Oh, boy. I have a feeling that 2022 might be the year of newsletter stories involving Jessie and her new running program.