This afternoon, fabrics were spread out, patterns unfolded, ready for another apron construction; then the phone rang. "There are cows out, almost to the road, and we think they are yours." When spring comes, the ring of a phone, especially before breakfast, usually means the cattle think the grass is greener across the fence, and they hunt for a weak spot and push through. While my husband does the actual fixing of the fence, I'm the go-fer; "go get me some posts, bring me the post driver, hand me the cutters, get a piece of wire, I'm ready for the ties." And all this was in the woods; little bushes, vines, roots, briers, all just waiting to trip me. The cows sure went out of their way to find a hole in the fence. But it doesn't always have to be an out-of-the-way spot, as happened last spring:
"All them heifers are out in Watson's field! I don't even know where to tell you to go to open a gate!' No time to go to the bathroom; just pull off good shoes, grab the headscarf and jacket, put on boots and see what can be done to get them back home. Upon arrival at the field I see all the heifers in their rightful place; Watson's field is dotted with black COWS and CALVES! He's already out with them, cracking his newly acquired whip. They're indifferent to that threat; with tender, green rye grass up to their bellies it's gonna take more than a snap in the air to move them toward home.
There are buckets of feed in the back of the Kubota, so I take one to the corral, calling, calling, pouring feed into troughs. Any other time they would have been at the gate by the time I had the bucket lifted over the tail gate. Now I rattle the empty bucket, calling, calling; one cow lifts her head, mouth full and grass hanging out. She begins to run to the corral and others, realizing what's happening, follow. I leave the gate open as long as I dare; the feed is almost gone and they'll be ready to go back to the grass. So I shut the gate and go out to help him.
That belly-high rye grass is wet and tangled; can't run, so I pick my way carefully around the herd and begin trying to persuade them to go to the gate. Most go through, leaving a few. And before we can get the corral ready for them, they high-tail it back to the origin of sin, hop into Hades and go farther than before!
Hearing aids are useless when herding cattle, so I have to run close enough to ask him if he has his cell phone to call for help. So he calls for younger brother and leaves me (it's raining by now) guarding the origin of sin while he goes for the 4-wheeler. At last, brother arrives with two border collies and they put those marauding animals on the run!
While he goes to open the gate into an adjoining pasture, I'm left again, guarding the hip-high fence. The whole herd comes face to face with me; all 100 plus pounds of me facing their 200 to 1700 pounds of tempted flesh. My only defense is a little two foot long stick I had picked up, but my glare gained their respect and none plummeted over the broken wires.
Finally they're in another pasture, the hole is fixed, and we have dry clothes. All in a day's work."