A picture’s worth a thousand words . . .
A picture’s worth a thousand words . . .
Boy one came in from the barn Friday night to ask for help. Buster had gotten into one of the stalls in the barn. When Boy one tried to shoo him out, Buster went the other direction and tried to jump the divider into the next stall.
I arrived to find Buster oddly tipped on his front legs, his back hooves not quite touching the ground and the weight of his back end held up by the two-by four running underneath him tight up against the his haunches. Slaps and pokes were useless. Boy one tried a screw driver to take down the rail. I tried to shove a bale of straw up to where Buster could put his back feet on it and finish the ill planned leap, but he just couldn’t do it.
We solved it with Boy talking to Buster while I sawed through the rail, wondering if he’d be able to walk properly after all that hanging around in the air while we tried to figure things out. The board finally gave way. Buster got his feet back and went to find his mother.
In my experience, boys find it important to share these kinds of things with their mother.
Boy two found me alone recently.
I licked the tractor again, he said.
It’s -20°C, I said.
I know, he said. I lost a taste bud and my tongue hurts. I don’t know why I do it, but sometimes I just have to.
He often serves on the altar at our church. After a service a few weeks ago he caught me.
I have this idea, he said. I think they should have the ALT OLYMPICS, like altar server, get it?
I pictured earnest children evaluated by adults with checklists for attention to detail, surprised at Boy two’s enthusiasm. Was he beginning to value the importance of being careful despite the tedious nature of details?
For the opening ceremonies, he said, everyone comes out in the robes from their church. Then for the competitions, everyone does the fifty yard dash but they have to hold candles while they run. For the hurdles, they have to jump over pews instead. I haven’t figured out all the events yet. Maybe they could throw an incense boat or something for shot put, I don’t know.
Obviously, we are headed for great things.
Boy one cannot begin his work until he has had a proper amount of time to talk about it. Saturday he was inspired (while reclining) towards a future business endeavor.
Listen to this, he said. In University, I’m going to get some other guys and we’ll start a company. Man Maids. We’ll clean for people, watch their kids, whatever. I bet we’ll have so much business. They’ll hire us because the name is cool and because we’ll look so muscular.
Hope everyone is staying warm. The snap has lifted a bit and the house is toasty again. This weekend we hope to clear the pond and at long last inaugurate the skating season.
I really believe that everything we need to know and learn is right in front of us. That kids, cows, and seasons sit hidden in plain sight; lessons laid out for the taking. When I don’t get it, I try to turn the paper sideways and upside down. Although for Anabelle, I may have to throw the book across the room.
A few months ago, Rick from the breeding company came. We requested Black Angus and then chose from one of two test sire vials. Later, Anabelle made it clear that Rick should come again. We sighed for the trial and paid for another vial.
We didn’t see any signs of insanity in the weeks that followed so figured we were home free. Until this weekend when Anabelle spent a lot of time exploring her inner crazy, stomping around, attempting to mount my husband, mount Buster, and yelling for a husband of her own to visit the farm. We gritted our teeth, called Rick, and chose the other sire vial. The one named, “Camero.” I wasn’t wild about a car in the bloodlines, but at stage reproduction critical, car cows are better than no cows.
Yesterday, Girl two was home sick. At 10:30 in the morning a man came to the door. Ya got a black cow an a white cow? he asked. People kind enough to find your house on their own way home (so that nobody gets hurt when your cow meanders down the road) deserve a medal. Although I declined his offer to help, for that too, he deserves a reward.
Six year olds don’t come programmed to be alone for an hour, so Girl two had to come along. I figured that I’d done my part to keep her home to rest, there wasn’t a lot I could do about God dragging her outside to tramp around the fields in pajamas. When we found them Anabelle was ambling beside the road. Getting her back in a field was easy. After that it got energetic.
I used a very wide container of grain to coax, but the cows were too jumpy for Girl two to be beside me. I had her trail behind the cows, which had me calling the cows, getting them to follow, jogging, and hollering for Girl two to follow faster so she didn’t lose us in the paths through the brush. Once we got to the woods, the trick was to find a place to get them back over the fence and onto our property. An hour and a lot of lively running around later, Anabelle and Buster were in the barn and Girl two (who had gone AWOL in the midst of the last bit of Buster chasing) was found changed out of pajamas on the front lawn swinging.
We gave up and bought more electric fence. Anabelle and Buster are in the barn until we finish installing it. There is a wise something in it all, I’m sure, I just don’t know what it is yet.
Recently, Buster wins top spot on this list. He has rapidly developed a taste for whatever’s on the other side of the fence. We don’t have enough money to fix all the fences to perfection. When the pigs started doing this we ended up fixing the fence problem by fixing the pigs. Is there a way to explain to Buster, that that’s why we’re pigless despite our deep and abiding appreciation for pork?
After escaping to the skeet shooting neighbor, Buster kept making his way to our front lawn. Sometimes in the day, sometimes at 10:00 at night. With that escape route was found and fixed, Buster found another. Thursday last week we were just finishing dinner (hoping to leave en masse for choir practice in a few minutes) when a man in a pick-up truck came up the driveway. Turns out Buster, with mother dearest in tow, had gotten out past the skeet shooter and onto the road. Everybody but us seemed to have known about it. The O.P.P. (for the non-Canadians, that would be the Ontario Provincial Police) came. Apparently, our bovines made it a good chase until finally, they were corralled into a nearby pasture with some other cows.
We made minimal attempts to talk Anabelle into coming back that evening, but she was pretty riled up by then. The idea of kids, cars, roads, and half crazed cows against the setting sun seemed more crazy than romantic.
The girls and I took off for choir. My husband made friends with the man who owned the pasture. The boys made friends with his one eyed, three legged dog.
Two days later, new friend (and trailer owner) delivered Anabelle and Buster to the barn, where we left them for a few days to mull over their bad behaviour. After that it was a collar for Buster and we chained him to a tree. Many hours of work on the fence later, they’re both wandering free in the fields again. The only one not wandering free is me, who startles and goes to set eyes on them so I know they haven’t gotten out yet.
I’m working on a letter to Buster.
Pick-up truck man offered to buy you straight up for $1500. Feeding you over the winter is worth it as long as we don’t have to sink money into fences. It was before your time, but ask the sheep – we used to have pigs.
Just a little something to think about.
Chasing cows is similar to chasing dreams. I learned this on Monday. My husband had noticed the cows missing. After a bit of searching, we found our two bovines settled in on a neighbor’s property (newly set up for skeet shooting). Finding them was the easy part. Despite the black, “no trespassing,” signs, we got a good sense of the neighbor’s property (who knew he had such nice interconnected paths mowed through his brush and trees?). But through all that brush and trees we weren’t quite sure precisely which way to head the animals because we didn’t know where they’d broken through the fence. My idea that we’d just get them moving and they would lead us to the spot of their escape was, as my kids would say, an epic failure.
Anabelle and son Buster were content to wander up and down the fence line crashing through as many trees and bushes as we pleased and not the least bit interested in showing us where a break in the fence might be. So it took an, “us,” (my husband and I) for an hour chasing cows. Of course chasing cows makes it seem like they were running, which they never did for more than thirty feet, and only when they saw a chance to move in the wrong direction. The rest of the time it was pushing cows, prodding cows, and cajoling cows. The dog was of no use. She would get them moving but then make them crazy going too close. Buster, especially, doesn’t take to having her at his heels.
We finally got them through by guessing that they leapt the fence (due to the slope of the land it’s easier to do going off the property than back on) so we lowered a section and lured them back. Then I went inside and my husband fixed the fence.
I had been annoyed, it is true, to find my afternoon interrupted by lost cows and by forcible teamwork with a man who failed to properly appreciate the magnitude of grievance the interruption caused me, not to mention the good sense in my ideas. Yet somehow I went back to the house encouraged. About writing of all things.
Hopes, dreams, editors, kids and cows . . . it’s all about the same thing. A little confusing, a lot of work, but you figure it out the best you can, consulting the guy beside you as you go. . . and eventually, you find the low spot in the fence.
Buster is rambunctious. This wanna be farmer is wondering if he is destined to be veal. I am told that 1200lb beef cow is his destiny. A scary thought at the moment.
After some days inside, I thought it was time to get outdoors yesterday, at least while I cleaned up the stall. Anabelle was ready. Out the door and thirty feet away without looking back. She was revelling in space and air and sunshine when Buster’s soft little moan called. (Roughly translated . . . mom, where are you? The door is open. What do I do? I don’t want to do it by myself.)
This was very sneaky. Buster didn’t mean much of it, but that is what he said.
Anabelle mooed softly. Buster moaned back and Anabelle was there. Sniffing, rubbing, talking. Stuttering steps.
Three pregnant sheep and a nervous Misty looked on. Misty has anxiety issues. (Also control, gluttony, and patience issues.)
Buster saw Misty, trotted away from Anabelle boldly, sniffed Misty’s nose and trotted around to check out the rest of her.
This triggered panic attack. With Misty’s disorder, panic equals I hate the world and I cannot stop running. Misty bucked kicked. (Anabelle gasped when she saw those hooves in the air only a foot from Buster’s head. I did too.) Then Misty took off running. Circles. Pause for catch your breath obesity moment. More circles. One of Misty’s favourite ways to say I hate the world, is to chase the sheep. Occasionally, she looped towards Buster, mostly she ran laps with timeouts to charge at the sheep.
The sheep, bellies full of baby lambs, have unfortunately not been keeping up with their prenatal exercises. I had thought the snow was prohibiting movement, but based on the successful mad dashes away from Misty every third circle of the pasture, the snow was not as much of an impediment as I had thought. Buster was unphased by the goings on. He was ready to explore by himself, thanks. If anything, the fat galloping pony gave him confidence. Ten feet he would run. Anabelle moved in front. Twenty feet the other way. Anabelle ran or walked as needed. Buster went where he wanted, but Anabelle stayed in between Misty and Buster at all times.
The sheep begged to get inside away from equine insanity. I have a soft spot for expecting mothers, so I let them in. A few minutes later, Misty was begging to get inside. She never chooses in, always preferring an open field, but even she had had enough. It was time for somewhere quiet. Safe from that nasty black thing in the pasture. The only one at peace was Buster. I put Misty in, made sure she and the sheep had hay and water and left Buster to it with the whole pasture to himself.
Anabelle appreciated the arrangement.