I received a phone call. It was my friend and neighbour J, from across the field. “Sorry to tell you this, but there’s a cow in the lane. Make that two cows.” I sighed. “Do they have numbers on their rumps?” “Yes, can’t quite read them though from here – oh, there’s another one. And a fourth.” “Stop it,” I said, “you’re attracting them. They’re ours, we’ll come and round them up.”
I had just been reading Pat’s latest episode in her wonderful story and had been poised to leave a comment, so I logged out (so she wouldn’t have to wonder why I’d been reading her for hours) and went and told the Sage. We set off across the field, pausing only to pick up a couple of posts and a sledgehammer.
Two cows were on the footpath, one outside the cottages and one had disappeared. “Where’s Foster?” I asked J and her neighbour M, who had also come out to help. “Off down the lane” – fortunately not towards the road. The Sage and I persuaded the cottage cow back onto the footpath, then he followed her to find out where they had broken down the wire and I, armed with apples supplied by J, went after Foster. “Here, Foster, good girl, chk, chk, come and have an apple.” I was highly impressed to find that this worked – she trotted towards me at a pace that made me hope she would slow down before I was knocked over. She did, gently taking an apple from my outstretched hand.
Not quite so easy to persuade her back to the path, but she went in the end. I went after her, to find my way blocked by Stumpy (I did not name her; she had an accident to her tail) who was very happily eating hop shoots from the undergrowth. I exhorted her to move, but she wasn’t impressed. I pondered. Can cows kick backwards? I was a bit wary of the huge rump, and reluctant to go close enough to pat it. I pulled some hop shoots and timidly tapped her with them. She moved a couple of steps, but preferred her meal, so I unwimped and gave her a firm tap on the bottom. I also lowered the timbre of my voice to a more manly sounding level. It did the trick and she, leisurely browsing on the way, went to the place where the fence was down and strolled back on to the field.
Another 10 minutes and repairs were effected, I went to pull up the last of the broad bean plants for them – and a cucumber or two for Foster, who is not fond of broad beans – and the Sage went to ring the farmer who owns the cows, to suggest that a bale or two of hay would be appreciated – they are good cows who have never tried to get out before, even when neighbouring beasts have pushed their way in, so they must be feeling the lack of fresh grass. There is enough for them to eat, but it’s dry and dreary old stuff and each of them is eating for two, after all.
Half an hour later, the phone rang again. It was M, across the field. “I meant to mention,” she said. “One of your chickens is way across the field. She’s quite happy, but you’ll be missing her later.”