29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31 (KJV)
Wednesday afternoon was a beautiful day, Alayna and I went out to the barn to take care of the animals. We had plans to groom the horses, train the horses, train the cow and do other random barn tasks outside our usual chore time activities. We had made good progress and had 2 hours left to go on my time clock. It was coming up on 1 pm and Alayna was grooming her pony, Sky. She suggested that perhaps we should take Sky and her 6-month old Black Angus show calf up to the enclosed upper paddock to munch on some grass together. They had already met through the fence in the lower paddock area in the barn yard and seemed to be friendly so I hesitated because it was not in my plans, but then I said, “ok, for just a few minutes.” So up the hill we went to the upper paddock. It is one of our more secure paddocks in my opinion. There are small gaps in the fence where a person can duck and squeeze through, pretty handy at times. Well “Impressive,” a.k.a. “Evie,” the Black Angus calf had been in the paddock on Sunday (a few days back) and she had found the gap in the fence and found that she fit quite nicely through the gap. She just had to duck a little. We found her in the front yard, standing there. Alayna was able to catch her promptly and returned her to the barn. Jason pulled the boards over to close the gap and that was that. We thought that would be the end of that silliness. So here we are on Wednesday, we are back in the pen Evie had successfully escaped from on Sunday. We had both animals on lead ropes since they had never been together in the ‘same’ pen, they had only visited briefly through the fence.
At first Sky was a little silly and I had to remind him that I was in charge in this situation. So after he settled down I decided I would let him go so he could get to grazing. He immediately went to munching and Evie, who seemed to not understand what grass is for, had not been previously interested in the green stuff. When she saw Sky munching, she thought she’d sample some. She had only had hay and grain up to this point. So she took a chew of grass and it was tasty. Sky is a fast pony and after getting a mouthful of grass he raised his head to look at his “herd buddy” and suddenly remembered he did not know Evie, she was some kind of strange looking creature. He was not sure he knew what kind of creature she was but he was certain now she was NO horse! He began to snort at Evie, rudely. Evie became concerned, not understanding because she had not really ever met horses either. She came from a rather large herd of cows and now she was quite certain that she was the last cow on earth as she had not seen any other bovines since her arrival a few weeks back, just a bunch of these strange maned, non-split hooved creatures. Now this particular one that she thought she liked was frightening her with his excessive snorting, although he was clear across the pen contemplating his escape should she decide to come and munch on him. Who knew what either animal was capable of at this point. Alayna and I tried to calm everyone down, it did not really seem all that dramatic at that point, it was just a snorting pony and a silly cow. Well the “silly cow” backed out of Alayna’s hands, she was held by a lead rope with a knot tied in the end for added holding advantage. Well Evie pulled smartly, just enough momentum went through to snatch even the knot from Alayna’s hands. Evie then immediately scampered to the gap in the fence where she had escaped from the other day. Alayna and I both breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that Evie saw the fence gap CLOSED. Evie began looking for another “gap” in the fence, she headed towards the gate that leads to the front pasture. Knowing that she is a herd animal I decided to round her up back towards the “safer part of the pen.” Evie stopped to observe me, when I got up close enough I wanted to get her lead rope, she decided she did not like me being too close so she lowered her head in a threat. Cow people know that this means in cow language, “back up or I’ll run you down.” I did not back up, instead I unnerved her position by gently swinging the lead rope in my hand at her. Evie turned and scampered back to the gate where we had brought her in, no doubt still looking for the gap in the fence. When she got to the other side, perhaps I should have stopped, but I felt that I needed to get her lead rope, I knew I would feel better if she were secured. I walked over towards her, she lost her nerve and galloped up the hill, charging Sky, the pony. He was so scared but he stood his ground so Evie got frightened and she galloped back towards the front pasture fence and she FOUND A GAP. It was one I would have never guessed, in fact, until she slipped through it I never would have thought she could have even made it through without getting on her knees and crawling through, but I was wrong, she was now hightailing it through the front pasture all the way to the front corner, she was heading out, somewhere! She did not know where, but she was OUTTA there! Alayna climbed through the fence and headed down. Evie could not find an exit there, thankfully a Fire Engine drove by just in time to make her abandon her search for a gap in the fence (had she kept going, she would have found one the same size and shape she had just escaped from so I am THANKFUL the fire engine came by and scared her, this was the 7th fire engine as there was a big fire at a home up the street, we found out about this much later). So Evie galloped back up the hill, again we relaxed, as far as I could remember the fence was closed off from that point and I could not foresee her getting through that section of fence. I contemplated my next move, but before I could come up with something Alayna hollered over to me, “she is OUT, she is heading up to the big pasture.” I scrambled over and opened the pasture gate. I had Sky, the pony on lead line and he and I ran up the hill but by the time I got up the hill it was too late. Alayna was sooo sad, Evie had ran up the hill and ducked out and under the electric fence. It was set up for horses and was at chest level and not on, not for cows the power for horse electric is lower than for cows, and in addition to all this she had never seen an electric fence so it probably would not have made a difference so she simply ducked under it and ran aimlessly down the forest path. I told Alayna we needed to call her Dad. He immediately headed home to help us search for Evie. We decided not to run right after her, as it was she thought we were “chasing her” and she already proved she was waaayyy faster than us. So we paused, we prayed, and while I waited up at the top of the hill for any “cow sign” Alayna took Sky back down to the other horses just to have him out of the way for now.
I waited and Alayna eventually made it back up the hill, it was silent up on the hill, only birds twittering and that was about it. No sound of cows crashing through branches or anything. I thought, “well maybe that’s a good thing, that she stopped running and maybe is now hiding, looking for us.” She is a very smart cow, which is part of the problem here. I decided to head back down to the house to wait for my husband. By now it was chore time so we fed the other animals. When we finished I called the local Animal Control Officer to notify her of our wandering bovine. She had a world of problems of her own, as the home up the street that had caught fire had several animals that resided there, she had her hands full and could not rush over to aid us in our cow search. I hung the phone up and 2 minutes passed and the ACO called right back and asked, “did you find your cow?” I said, “no.” I had not even moved from the spot I was in, I was sitting there despairing about what my next move should be. We were still waiting on my husband to come, he was 20 minutes out still. So the ACO officer said, “someone has spotted your cow,” she told me the location but the phone cut out a bit so it was unclear. I said “where is that location?” So she described, “head up the hill towards the grave yards.” I said, “ok!” That was clear enough, I jumped in the truck with Alayna and up the hill we went to the graveyard. The tip we had said they had seen the cow “standing on the side of the road.” We looked, and we looked and we saw nothing… we drove up the street and back down, then up again and back down. I tried to call the ACO but she did not answer, again , she was swamped with the task before her with the house fire. So we called Jason to see where he was and he was almost home. We went back to the house to wait for him, so we could continue the search when he came. Also, we waited for any calls of sightings. Nothing came. Hubby arrived and we headed straight back out, we drove around the graveyards, we looked down in to the forest. It was now nearing 5 pm and the traffic was getting heavier. This made me nervous because at this point we thought she had crossed this main, busy road. I did not want her to get out in traffic, I didn’t want her to get hurt, and didn’t want anyone else to get hurt! We headed up the hill and found all the fire engines, the fire was now out as one by one the fire engines were heading back to their stations. There was a Police Officer directing traffic so we asked him if the ACO was around. He said, “no, she headed back to the station.” We drove back down the hill towards our home, and back up the hill again, Jason said he thought he saw her in a pasture!! We figured she was heading towards other cows and there was a herd of Herefords here. So we stopped and went to get a closer look. Just then, the owner of the home drove up. We went to talk to them to find out if it would be ok for us to go through the pasture to look. There was some confusion, and we discussed it, our cow was a different breed than theirs, our cow was solid black, theirs are red and white. So there would be no question if our cow showed up in their pasture. So Jason finally got permission to go look, and it was … a boulder, a very large, cow-like boulder. In fact, everything was beginning to look cow-like. When she first ran off up in the pasture she passed through a grove of trees and I thought she was standing in the forest, turns out it was a large fallen tree!! After talking to the Hereford cow owners, we got a phone call from the ACO, she was able to contact the original people that reported the cow by the side of the road. They were coming up in a “brown truck.” We waited, and waited, finally a woman drove up in a small, dark brown SUV. We spoke briefly and got clarification, so the Hereford owners jumped in their truck and we jumped in ours and we all followed the brown SUV down the hill to the location of the last sighting, it was not across the street at the graveyard we had thoroughly searched. I was happy though because I did not want her to be crossing the big road in heavy traffic. Everyone jumped out and trekked out into the forest to find the lost calf. The only thing they found was tracks, which confirmed she had been there, but no actual cow. The good news was that when she was seen she still had a rope halter on, and she was also wearing a nylon cow halter, this was good news, I just hoped that they stayed on her. One searcher remarked that they were concerned that she had these things on her, that she might get caught. My response was “if only she WOULD catch up on something, then we could more easily apprehend our wayward bovine.” Their concern was that maybe a coyote might come and get her. I was also concerned for her safety, but more concerned about bears. We would have to keep searching. At this point, the Hereford owners returned home, the SUV woman was now gone, and Alayna was starving and I was having other unmentionable issues that made us all return home. Jason dropped us off, Alayna ate and Jason went back out to cover some ground. He got a call from the ACO and she participated in the search from the opposite side of the abandoned golf course, this would be the easiest space for the calf to hang out. It was fairly clear, plenty of grass to munch on, and forest to duck under for cover should the need arise. The search turned up tracks, but no cow. Jason searched until sundown and then he returned home. We were all very sad. I sent out a blanket of prayer requests to friends and family to pray for the safety of the calf and for her safe return. We left that in God’s care and we headed to bed. The next morning we were up at dawn. I was unable to go back out, and Jason had limited time. Alayna did chores and Jason went on a quick search, hitting the highlights they hit yesterday. We had not heard about any other sightings.
We prayed, we did our usual routine, and we waited. At 12:30 PM I got a phone call, it was our ACO. She was checking in to see if we had captured the calf yet, we said, “no” and I updated her on what we had done that morning. She said she would let us know if she heard anything and we hung up. Fifteen minutes later at 12:45 pm the ACO called back, she said there had been a sighting of the cow on a prominent road on the other side of the golf course. We got the address and jumped in the truck. Armed with tenacity, muck boots and a bucket of grain we rushed up to the road but I forgot the address. The ACO gave us the address and we mapped to it. We drove straight by it before we realize and went to turn around in an obliging driveway and we got another call, it was the ACO. She said, “you passed us, the cow is looking at you, when you come back drive in careful and slow.” So we did. As we quietly drove up, we saw our glorious, black bovine, happily munching on a pasture full of yummy, green grass. We were sooo elated, but controlled our emotions as it was not over yet. She was still clear across a pasture, and FREE.
She was still dragging her lead rope from her rope halter, hooray. We had prayed for this moment, but we were trying to not celebrate too much, there was still work to be done. The plan was hatched, I would widely skirt the pasture, no eye contact and I would very gently “push” the cow over towards Alayna and the bucket of grain. The ACO stood near a gate area in order to body block the passage should the need arise. I walked out and then up. I talked to Evie sweetly. She knew me, I purposely left my hair down because I’m fairly certain that the animals think my hair is a haystack. She had looked at my hair intently in the past wondering if it was indeed edible. I never let her try it, but the thought was enough, I figured she’d recognize me best that way. I quietly approached her and she looked, but continued to munch grass and in between snatching grass (she was apparently very hungry), she would look up at me as I slowly closed ground on her. I reached the point where she was uncomfortable with my presence and she didn’t just walk off, she began to trot off quickly, back towards the tree line to the forest. I stopped dead in my tracks, my heart was beginning to sink to my toes, after all this it would be heart breaking to see her cross the line back into the trees!! I held my breath. Alayna began to call Evie and shake the grain bucket. Evie paused and seemed to think “hey, I know what is in that bucket and I like it.” She knew what a grain bucket can contain. She took a step towards Alayna, Alayna kept calling her, she took a few more steps, and then more and more and more, she closed about a 30 ft gap to walk carefully up to Alayna with the grain bucket. When she walked up Alayna reached out and caught the lead rope. Evie greedily gobbled up the grain, she was excited to eat her favorite treat!
We were like “hooray!!!” I walked carefully (to not excite the calf) back over to where the ACO was standing. We now had to figure out a safe place for the calf while I ran back to the house to grab the trailer. We looked around for a good fence post to tie her, but in the end we decided to put her in a chain-link dog kennel on concrete pavement. It was solid and roofed. She finished her grain, had some water and now she decided she would leave again, stinker! She searched the fence for gaps, but she would find none here. Meanwhile I was at the house, hubby arrived, hitched up the trailer and off we went to pick up the happy little bovine and her girl. We celebrated, hugged and praised God for His provision and answered prayers!
The End, and hopefully this is the END of escapes!! 🙂 Next on the agenda… our fencing project just got moved up a few notches!
That’s all for now, stay tuned until next time.