Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Running of The Bulls......and Sheep?

We got a little unsolicited excitement last night.
To begin with, it was Zoie's REAL birthday. For some reason more often than not we seem to have a thing with dramatic animal escapes occuring on her birthday. Five years ago it was the famous " Pig on The Highway " incident that got me my " Crazy lady with all those kids and animals " status in the neighborhood. I think at that time I actually ONLY had 3 out of the 5 kids, and ONLY 3 pigs and no cows as well. Anyway, " Ginger " a large black sow had escaped her fence, in a snowstorm , on Zoie's 6th B-Day, and could not be coerced to cross the ice and go back in through the gate to her pen.
I called Dante at work and told him. I specifically remember him saying, " She'll be fine. Where's she gonna go?" Well, she went 5 miles down the highway in what became apparently a really fun day for everyone involved but US! And I mean right down the middle of the road. There were about 20 vehicles involved in this slow speed chase. Good samaritans were throwing their lunches out the window to her, one kindly neighbor lured her into his pristine white garage, and shut the door. Only to throw it open again when she started to do some damage. The police were involved, and told us if she crossed into the next town they were gonna have to shoot her. Finally she made her way to a cemetary, where some old time pig farmers on 4-wheelers caught her with a noose around the snout, and put her in their barn. We thought that was the end of it, until she jumped the 5 foot wall of the stall they had her in, and was on the loose again. They quickly rounded her up AGAIN, and this time nailed the doors of their barn shut. A friend of ours, went and retreived her the next day for us. And THAT"S how I became famous.........

So last night we get home about 8:00 pm. The answering machine is blinking, we have 1 new message. A quick listen, it was our neighbor calling while we were gone to tell us we had a few cows out. I was thinking, " That's odd. It was probably the calves " Henrietta " and " Angus ", out for a little Tour De Farm. Boy what a pain in the butt those two are."
I somehow convince Dante to go spread some straw out for the milk cows in the barn, because--" I'm so tired, there's no way I can do it!"
He returns, and peaks in our bedroom and says, " We got everybody all mixed in together. The bulls are up here milling around with the milk cows."
Oh, no. Remember-- I'm simply too tired to go on--- I can't possibly go sort out BULLS in the dark. But then I get this horrid picture in my mind, of the cows thundering around the barnyard in the muck and mud, driven on by the bulls, and my darling Althea getting trampled in the process.
Zoie, Ayla, and I get dressed and head over to the barn to join Dante, who is just leaving on the tractor. He figured he better put a new hay bale in their feeder, as incentive to get them the 1/2 mile back down the road to THEIR fence and barn. While he was gone, I get an idea. We should gather all eight milk cows and three calves, up onto their 12x32 ft bedded " sleeping platform " and lock the door. Then it would be easier to drive the bulls out of the fence and barn.
As we were working, my eyes catch sight of something white whizzing by. The sheep! Of course, they were in with the bulls and came up to the barn too. SWEET. Now we have killer bulls AND bouncing sheep to drive back down the hill. I was actually happy to see the sheep, just not in this context. My ewe and her lamb, came right up for some treats and scratches. Their beau, " Black Beard " ( the borrowed Scottich Black face ram ) was all about panicking and hurtling himself from one length of the barn to the other. Like sooty popcorn actually.
The trap is set, Zoie is secure--I'm sprung and ready to flee, screaming for my life if they run in my direction.( Very helpful in times like this ) It's a dark night, and as is typical of most Jersey bulls, they are very dark colored and can move surprisingly cat-like, when they need to. Dante disappears into the night, armed with a trusty fence post, listening to the hoof beats sloshing around outside, every hair is standing up on my head. I wait.
The bulls whiz by the opening of the barn, but the sheep take the bait and come eat grain from the pan I set out. Next time around, the bulls tear straight down the middle if the barn-- and I scramble out the front doors and pull them closed. Did I mention Ayla is hysterical in the minivan this whole time? Even though I went out to reassure her every couple of minutes, she's wigging out. I keep hearing the doors locking, everytime I walk away. She is NOT the one you want around, while working difficult animals. She likes baby " Moo cows" and to look at cows through the fence but that's pretty much the extent of it.
So now, the bulls and sheep are in the barn. Zoie and Dante are taking FOREVER to come out. Ayla's crying, and I'm pacing outside the van. Somehow Dante and Zoie appear around the side of the barn. Zoie hops in, Dante releases the bulls...and sheep, and we're off! The sheep lead the way in a tight little bunch, bounding down the dark, wooded lane. " Wolfie " the almost 2 year old bull is next, followed by " Brody " our runty little yearling, with an attitude, and we bring up the rear in the minvan. I would have loved to have been on the other end and seen this odd nighttime procession coming down the driveway. In fact, I tried to shoot a quick video, but Dante conveyed in a not so subtle manner, ( insert choice expletives here )that this was not the time nor place for it.A trio of sheep, a couple knot-headed bulls thundering along, all in the glow of our 1 headlight van. Yes, we've got a headlight out again, thank you. Bought a bulb for it yesterday.
They all trotted right in the open gate to the paddock and commenced to munch their hay. The girls and I headed back up to the barn, to release the girls, who were all in a dither, by now. What do I find? Maddy is down again. There is something going on with her. I think she hurt her back during that near- death episode she had. She was cast again, a few weeks ago, and then couldn't get up last night. We ushered all the other cows out, gave her some time and encouragement, and she finally got up. It's like she can rise to a certain height and then it hurts, and she drops again. This has me very worried. I'll probably consult with the vet today over the phone. Phew, and now I need to finish up an order and deliver it by the new, earlier deadline.
Never, and I mean NEVER a dull moment around here. I could use a little boredom, a little of the mundane, dull, lackluster. You know what I mean!


  1. Wow! I am always so excited(hah) when the cows escape but never had quite the time you just did. Once when we thought we were finished herding them up at midnight we heard calls coming from down the road in our neighbors back yard and off we were again. Next time the escape happens( which I am sure it will some time) I will think of your day and reassure myself that it isn't that bad. Glad all ended well for you.

  2. Did you figure out how they got out/mixed up? Poor little Ayla, crying in the van! So, what kind of night is more tiring -- a young woman's birthday party or a loose cow/sheep/bull party? :) I think you need about a week of sleep to catch up!

  3. Somehow the metal gate to their paddock was lying flat on the ground. Maybe they were bored?
    Yeah, I think we've been pretty successful in conveying the danger of bulls to the kids. You'd probably not catch one of our kids trying to get in with a bull!
    It's a toss-up which is more tiring. Overall, I'm just plain old t-i-r-e-d.

  4. It's entertaining when you and not me.lol Just kidding, dear. Hope you get some well deserved rest!
    Ours got let out this week as well by a worker. Not as eventful, they found a neighbors decorative round bale in his front yard and hung put there until we brought the trailer.
    The bull was borrowed and we just dropped him off at his real home. Yippee no more of his shenanigans!


  5. That's too funny, Lynea! We did the same with a borrowed bull we had 2 years ago. He and all 6 of our calves at the time, made a break for it, 2 days after Ida May was born. We got a call at 4:00 am that the bull was at their house ripping up their decorative trees. We just loaded him on the trailer and took him back. Sadly he wasn't even here long enough to get the job done. Silly boy.

  6. LOL, could you imagine looking out your window at 4;00 am to see some strange deranged bull taking it out on the shubbery :0)

    Hey! My word verification is 'porks'...what are the odds?lol

  7. Your killing me! One of my all time favorite descriptive words is " deranged "! That shows how " maladjusted " I am.
    Too funny about the word verification!

  8. Oh boy, that sounds like quite the adventure! What is it with borrowed bulls? The two we had here last year ruined the garden fence...one started it, the other finished the job!

  9. I think it's like " Spring Break " for them. Lot's of girls, exotic locations, they just go all crazy! Sorry about your garden fence. That really stinks.