Monday, December 15, 2008
Buttercup's Big Adventure
Buttercup is a mellow girl, except for the few times when she lowers her horns and chases goats or chickens around the barnyard to let them know who's boss. As with most cows, she's into routine. She follows the same path out through the barnyard to her "cud corner" every morning after eating breakfast and getting a big drink.
With this in mind, I figured that she wouldn't be much of a flight risk when I opened the barnyard gate to drive the truck out after unloading some wood chips in the muddy spots behind the barn. The goats I knew to be opportunists, so I made sure to lock them both in the barn before opening the gate. With Buttercup, I just had to keep an eye on her in case she moseyed over in the wrong direction.
After sequestering the goats, I opened the gate, hopped into the truck, turned the key, and looked out the window to see a large brown and white object slowly moving towards the gate.
I hopped out, not wanting to scare her out of the barnyard, and casually walked over to her, thinking I'd just head her off at the pass. She maneuvered around me, headed out the gate, and made a break for it. Thus began Buttercup's big adventure.
My first thought was that I'd just taken off her halter a few days before, and didn't have any lead with me, but it really didn't matter. I did have some bailing twine in my pocket, so made a loop out of that to slip over her horns when I got close enough. But she wasn't interested in me getting too close.
She took off accross the small field to the west of our house and headed west (away from Hwy 60, fortunately) at a nice trot with me in hot pursuit, wearing my big wool Filson coat and rubber barn boots (I wonder why Olympic runners never wear these things?). I think she overheated about the same time I did, so she slowed down with me about 50' behind her. I wasn't too excited about her being out on an icy road (cars might have a tough time stopping if they saw her), but no longer had any say in the matter. She was going out for an adventure.
She first stopped at our neighbor's house to the west, where they have a barn with some goats and a horse; she thought it looked like a nice place to hang out, and looked over the barnyard fence for a while, but kept me at a distance. Then she turned around, back towards our house, but left the road to check out our neighbor's property (the one who's extra sensitive about trespassers, of course). It's just a hunting property, so he doesn't live there and didn't see this, fortunately. His property is mostly overgrown farm fields with lots of briars. They don't seem to bother her as much as they did me.
Then through the woods, past a beautiful pond (must be some good ice skating there!), accross a soybean field and accross county line road. She was starting to slow down quite a bit at this point, but still wouldn't let me near her. Finally she paused in another soybean field, nearly a mile to the west, and I swung a big circle around her until I was able to push her back towards our house.
She headed back accross the field in the direction she'd come, crossed the road, and picked up her old path. I grew hopeful that she'd follow it all the way home, which is exactly what she did. She kept her nose down almost like a bloodhound, and even knew to skip the detours.
I've traced it out for all to see above. The red was her departing route, the blue her returning route. I really need to set up our electric fence.
We also managed to rid ourselves of the oil furnace that dominated our basement this weekend. Put up a craigslist add, and after a few false starts, I had a taker who even removed most of the ductwork. The basement is much improved.
I finally got our rail put up near the top of our stairwell, so now we don't have to cringe every time Henry veers a little too close.
Posted by David Veale