Learning the Hard Way
Why you should NEVER take a swing at a cow with a bucket...
We'd been having some trouble keeping the calves on the farm. They were convinced that the
grass really was greener on the other side of the fence over at the
Clark's place, and they had taken to squeezing through the barbed wire
and making themselves at home. Now the number one rule of country living
is that if you're going to keep animals, keep them at home, so we decided
to cross-fence a nice section of the pasture to make sure they stayed
Now you would think, with all of 80 acres to choose from, that we would put up the fence in the best spot available. You would be wrong.
The site decided upon as the new calf pasture lies directly south of the house. We opted for convenience, as the pasture was already bordered on two sides by the fence that ran alongside the road, and, as luck would have it, on the third by my garden fence.
Now the one thing growing on that fence was my Luffa gourds. The vines, all 26 feet of them, were lush and tropical, and the dark green gourds hung heavily along both sides of the fence. The bold yellow flowers added a decorative touch to the okra which had grown too tall to pick, and the tomatoes that had enjoyed too much rain and lay sprawled on the ground like Romans after a feast. They were my gardening pride and joy. It was not without some concern that I noticed the fact that the new fence would put them right in the face of our calves.
I mentioned this to Mike, who reminded me that they had not bothered them all summer, so they would probably be fine. Pacified, I went off to feed the other animals, and left him to it.
Mike began at the far end, pounding in T-posts, working his way down to the corner. The calves, being naturally curious about all the activity, made their way over to watch. They followed him like a fan club as he strung the first strand, and were even so obliging as to be on the right side of the fence as he attached a come-along to tighten the wire.
Now at this point, there were 8 calves standing around absolutely fascinated at the sight of my husband working, and everything was going so well that I put down the feed bucket so that I could reach over the fence to scratch one or two on the head. Satisfied that all was well, I picked up the bucket, and began walking back to the house.It was then, for the first time, that the calves noticed the Luffa.
It started innocently enough. Like Ferdinand the Bull, one would begin sniffing those bright blossoms, joined by another, and another. The girls, who were also watching, called to me to watch the cows smell the flowers. Apparently, they smelled good enough to eat, and in seconds I was witnessing the complete destruction of my prized gourds.
I ran back to them, yelling at Mike, "See, see, I told you they would eat them..."
Busy with the fence, his only reply was "Honey, just scare them off."
The calves barely noticed as I hollered and stomped, trying to spook them. I tried picking the gourds before they could get to them, but at 8 to 1, I was loosing badly. They were eating the vines, and stomping my gourds into the ground. I found myself in a desperate tug-of-war with a calf over a luffa that was being pulled through the fence. I held on as tight as I could, but the calf was relentless, and the gourd slipped through, taking some of the skin off the top of my hand when they both wedged in the same hole.
It was then that I lost all patience and decided to swing the bucket at them.
The first time, the calves backed off a respectable distance, and I thought I'd won. But then one of the biggest calves nosed up to the fence about 10 feet from me and began pulling vines again. Before I could get to him, the others had regained their nerve and were rushing the fence behind me. I knew I had lost, but in one last desperate attempt to fight back, I swung the bucket at the nearest calf.
"Stupid cow!" I screamed. It connected with a satisfying thud, and for one brief instant I felt
triumphant. I had hit that cow, and I was glad.
But as I still had a hold on the handle, it was a very brief instant indeed. The bucket bounced off the startled calf and swung back in a short, surprisingly swift arc and hit me in the face, breaking my perky little nose.
Well, that was about 10 days ago. My blackeye has returned to normal, the swelling has gone down, and there's some hope that I won't have a Richard Nixon/Bob Hope profile.
Mike has offered to buy me a bullwhip in case I need to run the cows out of something else,
but I smiled and told him "No thanks".
I'm not telling him, but I'm afraid I would wrap it around my own neck.