The afternoon was not what I’d hoped for.  I arrived home from the hairdresser to find bantams clustered around the door and, as I unlocked it, I heard the phone ringing.  It was a neighbour the other side of the field saying that the two cows that were brought here this morning were out.  I left a note for the Sage and went to find them.

They were in a field where some men were working, painting an old tractor and cutting some grass.  I said I’d see if I could find where the cows had got out, mend it and come back to drive them back to the field.  I phoned Jonny to tell him and he said that it was the second time they’d got out, he’d been over once already, so I said that I’d get them back in.  The Sage wasn’t home, so I asked Al to help me.  They were reasonably biddable, we got them back, fastened up the wire and then chivvied them onto the Ups and Downs where, I knew, the fencing was very secure and there were no weak spots.  And yet, I was mistrustful, so I went back out again – sure enough, one of the cows was about to barge down the barrier across the stream which divides the fields.  I spoke sharply to her and they both moved away.

The next forty minutes was frankly not very nice at all.  No. 77 was, I soon realised, the breaker-out.  She was very annoyed about being thwarted and set off round the field to find a weak spot.  No. 400 followed for a while, but then settled down to chew the cud.  77 came towards me, trying to go around towards the stream, but I headed her off.  Every few minutes she approached again, each time getting bolder and I had to wave my arms and shout, whereas to start with just a stern word was enough.  Finally, the Sage arrived home and came to find out what was going on.  I said that we had to tie up the gate to make it more secure and he said he’d go for rope – at that moment, 77 ran at me.  Half a ton of pregnant dairy cow coming at you is scary, I can tell you.  I shouted loudly and waved my arms and she veered away and … the Sage saw that I wasn’t exaggerating when I had told him what was going on.

Anyway, he tied up the gate and we left, but she has still barged it down again.  We’ve phoned Graham, the farmer and Jonny’s dad, and he said that she’s very attached to her friends and misses them.  There’s a very narrow bridge back towards the farm and if she dares brave that, she may arrive home of her own accord.  The Sage has gone to see if he can find her, and asked me to stay by the phone.  I know that he actually doesn’t want to see me having another run-in with 77, I suspect it was just as scary for him to watch as it was for me, but I’m anxious about him.  I’ve given him my phone, as I know it’ll get a signal down there, in case he needs any help.

Ah.  He’s just got back and says he’s driven her on to another field.  She might find her own way home, in any case, they will find her in the morning.  No. 400 seems quite relieved to have our field to herself for a while.  Hopefully, they’ll bring Big Pinkie tomorrow and the two of them can settle down together.

20 comments on “Hoofloose

  1. Jane and Lance Hattatt

    Hello Z:
    Oh, the trials and tribulations of having livestock.

    We know from the experience of living in the country that sheep are always looking for ways out of wherever they are contained, but we had not realised that cattle could be just as bad [and twice as big]!!

    You have obviously had a very trying time of it and we do so hope that they are now secure. Our one attempt at keeping chicken proved far more difficult than we had ever thought possible. Clearly we are not cut out to be farmers!!

  2. Z

    It was just that she wanted to be back on the farm with her friends. Some cows are more herd-minded than others. 400 will certainly need another cow here by tomorrow, they don’t like being alone and she’ll break out too.

    I’m not scared of cows, but obviously you have to use some sense. If the two of them had come at me, I’d have got out of their way. 77 is not aggressive, but very determined. Graham and Jonny’s cows are looked after very well and treated kindly and are pretty docile. Young stock are unpredictable and cows with calves can be dangerously protective, especially if you have a dog with you.

    Go on, Rog, what are one and two?

  3. Z

    A friend kept her sheep here for a few summers, which certainly made me resolve never to keep sheep – they didn’t ever escape, it was all the possible health problems. And, after they left and our dog went on the field, he got covered in ticks – I was having to search him and pick them off for weeks! Horrible.

  4. Marion

    Ha! Not ten minutes ago I was reading an old Rex Stout, Nero Wolf mystery and currently a gigantic bull has trapped Nero on top of a boulder. The bull’s name is Caesar. Nero is a city slicker and someone from the farm will have to rescue him. I bet you could do it.

  5. Roses


    Never a dull moment eh?

    I can see how watching the cow thunder towards you, would give the Sage an unhappy moment. I’m feeling unhappy at the thought of it.

    But it makes for a very good story, especially as all is once again, well.

  6. Blue Witch

    Um – I know it’s your field, but how does that make you responsible for getting the cows back in if they get out? I’ve noted before that you’ve been called when they’ve got out. It’s all very well being neighbourly, but cows can, and do, kill/seriously injure people…

  7. Z

    I’d send 77 to distract the bull and leave Nero to make good his escape. I used to like those Rex Stout stories, didn’t he have a sidekick?

    No, BW, I was helping out. The cows were easy to get back in the field, it was just that 77 was desperate to rejoin her friends. I felt better disposed to her, once I knew that, and that she hadn’t just been naughty.

    Cows can be dangerous, and there are things I’d never do, especially not go in a field of strange cows with a dog, or interfere with cows with calves – but 77 was only trying to get past me, not attack me.

  8. Zig

    must have been the day for it, Freddie escaped and went galloping down the high street yesterday. I learned 2 things, he can run faster than me, and people, even ones in cars, are remarkably agile at removing themselves from the path of a galloping horse. (or a charging cow!) Anyway some brave old chap stepped in his path and skidded to a halt, I arrived red puffing and wheezing to be asked “ave you lost sumfing me luvverr?”.

  9. Zig

    Freddie skidded to a halt, not the old chap, who apparently just stood there awaiting certain death, luckily he (death) was obviously busy elsewhere – phew.

  10. Z

    Cowboys dance with the farmers’ daughters, farmers dance with the rangers’ cows, Chris.

    I knew what you meant, Zig. And that was far more worrying than the cow getting out!

    She found her way across the river and back to the farm, she’s a very determined cow!

  11. Z

    Ranchers’ cows. Oh well. I think that was Maureen Lipman playing Aunt Eller, my mother and I went to see it. She loved Oklahoma.

    For myself, I always identified with Ado Annie.


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