Thursday, March 24, 2011
Bad Cow, Bad Fence, Good Neighbors
After a long morning away from home yesterday, Emma and I returned about 1 p.m., tired and hungry. Emma stayed in the car to finish something she was reading. I hurried in to start lunch but was first greeted by the flashing light on the answering machine. I pressed the "play" button.
"Hello, Wendy. This is your neighbor down the street, P____. Your Jersey cow came down the road this morning headed for the highway. . ."
It was one of three messages, the final one informing me that her attempts to capture the wily Fiona proved fruitless and that she had given up and called the sheriff.
I hot-footed it to the car and told Emma. The news shocked her so much that she denied at first that Fiona could be gone. Then she recovered herself and ran for the lead rope. I dashed back to the phone and called the sheriff's department to see if they had recovered the renegade Jersey. I could imagine that scene: Fiona surrounded by squad cars with flashing lights, craftily assessing her options, then slyly distracting and disgusting them by plopping piles of splattery poop on the road, at which point she would break and run. Ugh.
The sheriff's department dispatcher came on the line. "This is Wendy Haught," I said. "Did you catch my Jersey cow?"
"No, ma'am," the dispatcher replied emphatically without hesitation. Apparently Fiona was the only Jersey cow on the run that day. The dispatcher didn't need to ask me any questions.
"OK, thanks," I said, not the least surprised that Fiona had eluded them.
Emma came in to change shoes. We both grabbed some of these little date/almond butter/squash/coconut balls she had made and ran for the car. I had had one of these things for breakfast and nothing since. Somehow running to the Honda with a handful of vegan treats seemed horribly inadequate for the high drama to which we had been called. Surely this scene called for beans and bacon or jerky and biscuits and a pair of fleet-footed little Mustangs. Oh, well. As usual, Fiona was directing the show, not I.
We tore off down the driveway, praying fervently to St. Anthony, St. Francis, and St. Isidore. Thankfully, my neighbor, P____, with the help of a friendly motorist, had been able to divert Fiona away from the highway and down a side road. I planned to search there first. If we didn't find her, then I would let Emma implement her plan of searching off-road on the 4-wheeler.
Right away we noticed that there was continuous pasture fencing on both sides of the side road. Deo Gratias! She would have had to keep to the road where she would be easier to catch. We cruised slowly along, checking for any openings where she might get through. We passed a small pasture with three fat cream-colored beef cows and one bony brown and white Jersey who was determinedly impersonating a fat cream-colored beef cow.
"There she is!" Emma cried exuberantly.
We pulled in the driveway of the home that adjoined the pasture, hopped out and knocked on the front door. No answer. We waited a few minutes while I thought this over. Should we go fetch Fiona without the owner being present? This was indeed a dilemma. I mean, after all, this is Texas, y'all. You don't just go rushing pell-mell into other folks' fenced pastures. They might think you're a cattle rustler and take a shotgun to your hindmost parts. For all I knew they were in there right now, pressed against a wall, peering at us stealthily through a window.
Being the sensible, cautious person I am, I said, "Come on, Emma," and we headed for the pasture gate. We let ourselves in, and Emma quickly worked Fiona into a corner where she was able to grab her halter and secure it to the lead rope. The other three cows moved close and watched intently. It was a little nerve-wracking, especially since one of them had horns. They followed us, jogging, to the gate. Then they walked with us as far as they could inside their fence. They didn't want Fiona to go.
Boo-hoo. Or should I say Moo-hoo?
I followed behind Emma and Fiona in the Honda just to make sure no trouble overtook them. As I inched along, I counted our many blessings. How lucky we were! We are eternally grateful to P____ and whoever captured Fiona and locked her up in the pasture with the three beef cows. Our story could have had a much different ending.
Mr. Haught returned home from work and promptly fixed the fence. Fiona, just as promptly, hurried to the repaired area to inspect her options. Hope springs eternal. Even in bad cows.