“Darling” said the Sage casually, “can you come with me for a minute?” I shot out of the room. He is so polite that I knew it was urgent but he didn’t want to alarm me – usually, he would have asked if I could “spare a minute.”
He had spotted Foster, his favourite cow, grazing by the kitchen garden. She looked at us and turned towards the greenhouse, then, trustingly, veered back on to the drive and onto the field. She is so used to being hand-fed that she let my husband go past her and open the gate to the field for her to go back in.
Then we saw Bart Simpson (we do not name the cows, they come to us already monickered) in the kitchen garden. We hesitated, not sure how to head her back towards the field safely. Dilly appeared and stood guard by the gate, I went into one end of the greenhouse, meaning to come out the other and drive Bart back; I reckoned that her going towards one greenhouse was better than the gap between the other two but, inevitably, that gap was her chosen route. Across the pumpkin patch and then we saw where the fence had collapsed. She ambled back into the field.
So, drama over and rarely have we been so glad of an anti-climax. We were very shaken. If one had blundered into a greenhouse, she could have done herself terrible damage. I went to check the plants, not caring in the least. The whole vegetable garden could be wrecked for all it mattered. But no, a few broad beans leaning over and nothing else touched. Even the pumpkin patch was unscathed; they had walked between the plants and not trodden on anything at all. I can’t quite believe it. I’ve firmed in the beans and put the sprinkler on and we’ve temporarily mended the fence. We discovered that the ballcock on the water tank had stuck and it was empty, and the beck had run dry; they were simply thirsty and in search of a drink. The other five cows were on the other side of the beck, thank goodness, for seven of them would surely have come to some harm.