Friday, December 3, 2010

Do Not Hang Out With Large Animals

We have new horses living across the street in our rental house.  Actually, new people live in the house.  The horses are theirs and live in the pasture.  But, you could have probably figured that out on your own.  Anyway, once again we have horses across the street.  I like having the horses in the pasture.  It’s very idyllic.

The last tenant who rented the house also had horses.    His horses were a rag tag group.  There was a rejected Clydesdale, a gangly pony or two and even a miniature horse.  Those are the strangest of all.  This guy worked at a restaurant in a nearby town.  He would put the miniature horse in the back seat of his pick up truck and park it in front of the restaurant.  He called it good advertising.  I called it stupid!  As you can probably tell he was crazy and after putting up with him for way too long, we decided it was time for him and his horses to move on.  After he left I realized I missed looking out my kitchen window and seeing the horses.  So, I was happy to learn that the couple who just rented the house was bringing along three horses.  They also have two cows, a dog, a cat and some chickens, but I’m not as excited about the rest of their little animal menagerie.  The only ones I can ‘experience’ from my house are the horses, well and the cows, but generally cows are a dime a dozen around here and are pretty boring creatures.  It’s the horses I like.  Let me re-phrase that; it’s the horses I like to look at.

It took a lot for me to get close enough to take these photographs, because generally I do not care for animals that are larger that I am.  It’s just one of my basic rules.  If an animal is bigger than you are, I think it should be avoided.  That’s not to stay I don’t respect them or in some cases even admire them.  I just do not want to get near them. 

Case in point - Our rental property backs up to a hundred acre cattle ranch.  Some years back the man who owned it called and asked if we would keep an eye on the place while he and his wife visited their kids in Florida.  He explained that we would not have to do anything except once a day walk over to the pastures and look to see that everything seemed normal. 

Of course as luck would have it, as soon as they left we had a massive storm one evening and woke to find a tree had crashed down on a section of fence.  There was a hole large enough for any cow to walk through.  We called Florida and our neighbor instructed us to first count the number of cows and make sure all were accounted for.  Counting cows in itself is quite a task!  Although they don’t move fast, they do move around and it’s very difficult to get an acurate reading.  Eventually we determined that none of the cow’s had made a break for it and headed for greener pastures. 

He then told us to open the gate, go inside the pasture and ‘herd’ the cows into an adjacent fenced enclosure.  He explained that cows are ‘followers’ and all we had to do were to get one of them to go along with the idea and the others would follow suit.  Now C is suspect of large animals just as much as I am, if not more so.  There was no way either of us was going to stroll into that pasture with forty Black Angus and try and persuade them to relocate themselves.  Instead we devised an alternative plan.  We would drive into the pasture, pick a cow that seemed to be a likely ‘leader’ and somehow convince him that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence. 

Thank God we had a jeep pick up at the time; otherwise I’m sure we’ve been in my Mercedes.  C would back the Jeep up to the cows and I would stand in the rear of the truck and using my superior power of persuasion convince a cow to follow us.  Obviously the others would follow.

It didn’t work.  Instead the cows just gathered around the Jeep and stared at me.  After what seemed like hours it was determined that these cows were not in any hurry to move.  We decided C would drive the Jeep into the next pasture and that I would have to take more aggressive action.  I was not happy about this, but I could not stand in back of a truck all day hoping the cows would accidentally wonder into the next pasture.  Once I got on the ground and the jeep moved away the cows surround me like a SWAT team on a drug mule.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified.  They did start following me.  However the faster I walked, the faster they walked.  If I slowed down it just meant they got closer.  I was afraid of a stampede.  Eventually we made our way through the open gate and I was able to jump to safety in back of the jeep. 

I think all this goes back to my childhood.  Growing up we would go to my paternal grandparents and have lunch every Sunday.  My grandparents had a dozen or so acres and a barn surrounding their house.  The barn contained three things, hay for their cows, mice and a herd of cats.  As little kids, my brothers and I would spend the afternoon chasing farel kittens.  We never did catch them.  We tried everything from ‘the cardboard box propped open with a stick’ to ‘the sneak up, surround, and surprise attack’ but nothing ever worked.  We were not allowed to go in the barn and we had no intentions of venturing into the pasture if those cows were around.  Instead, we would lure the kittens beyond the pasture fence to the spot were my grandmother would toss left over scraps from lunch.  Even then I knew to avoid the cows. 

At one point my grandfather got a horse.  It was a beautiful chestnut color similar to one of the horses that just moved in across the street.  Once, I remember being in the pasture as my grandfather saddled up the horse.  I was probably about eight years old and my brothers around five and six.  Of course I was leery of being around the horse, much less the cows, but my grandfather seemed to have things under control.  Then all of a sudden the horse reared up on its hind legs and yelled.  I guess it’s a yell, I don’t know what you call that horse noise.  But, anyway it was standing on its back legs towering over the three of us.  All I remember seeing is front hoofs, a giant horse belly and an enormous dangling horse penis.  We screamed and ran like those farel kittens.  My youngest brother peed in his pants. 

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