This morning was cold and rainy. I spent a little extra time in the house drinking coffee and answering emails, wishing the rain would stop before heading out to run dogs. The rain slowed down to a drizzle while I was hooking up, which made things better for me and great for the dogs. They left the yard strong and were just motoring down the trail.
The miles were ticking off and the run was still going great. We went up the driveway and into the 320 acres that borders our land where our neighbor has a herd of cows grazing. The cows are there from about July – late September of each year and we routinely train in the field with no incidents…well, Camilla did find a very large, slimy cow pie to roll in on one of our breaks yesterday which didn’t please me – but that is about it.
We crisscrossed through the land without seeing the herd. They had been down by our house earlier this morning, so I had a pretty good idea where I might run into them. Sure enough, as we were heading to the gate to leave the field, we came across them. The dogs picked up but stayed nicely on the trail, as is expected of them. As we passed, one of the cows broke loose from the group and went charging up ahead of the dog team. There were cows on both sides of the trail, so I figured that maybe she had got separated from her calf (actually these calves are older and the Mom’s are not usually very protective of them anymore) and called the dogs to a stop so she could cross the trail in front of them. She didn’t stop, but swung her head a bit and made some generally unfriendly motions. I decided we weren’t going to hang around and see what was up. As the dogs moved forward she started to angle back, picking up speed and heading towards the team. I called the dogs up and punched the throttle on the ATV to get past her. She now swung around and started coming after us, angling towards the dogs again. I was yelling and insulting her species to no avail. To make a long story shorter, she chased us down the trail for almost a ¼ mile. I was in disbelief. Why the heck didn’t she just give up?? We were bearing down on the gate and I knew I was going to have to make a stand. I called the poor dogs up even more – I don’t usually push them to lope like that at this time of the year and I know they were confused, but I needed to buy some distance to get as far in front of this bovine Smarty Jones as I could. She was RUNNING down the trail behind us. Right before the gate, I braked the ATV and leapt off to charge at the cow. She stopped and snorted at me. While she debated her next move, I started throwing sticks at her. That seemed to help her make up her mind and she turned. With one final glance over her shoulder, which was met with another barrage of sticks, she LOPED back down the trail to the herd.
The dogs and I got out of the field and back home without further incident.
Mark, I hope you are hungry when you come home from work tonight – we are having STEAK!