Spring has sprung and so have my cows. The grass has started to green up and the temptation was just too much for my old cows and they finally broke through the electric fence separating them from the brome. I suspect they got some of their calves to do the dirty work and that says a lot about the character of my cows. They fear the electric fence and the ensuing shock but they have no problem sending junior into the fence. The calf then gets caught up in the fence, breaking the wire and allowing mama to waltz right through the opening and onto the brome.
I must admit that I find this morally reprehensive. Don’t get me wrong, my cows are perfectly fine mothers with this one exception. I guess they are going with the idea that the calves won’t be around next year and therefore they will not get culled for being fence jumpers. Maybe they know that if I culled every cow that got out I would put myself out of the cattle business.
In the grand scheme of things, it is not the end of the world either. When they get out on the brome they are not off my place, they are just not where I want them. Every night I go out with a bale of hay and unroll it in the pasture I want them in. Every night they file back through the hole in the fence that they have had one of their unsuspecting calves create. Once inside the confines of the pasture, I mend the fence while they munch their hay. The next day, someone nudges their calf through the fence and we are at it all over again.
Yes, I have tested the fence and it has plenty of spark. I am also aware that if I built a permanent fence I would not have this problem. I have, however, decided that my cows are evil and they would find some other way to get under my skin. I have also entertained the idea that maybe the calves know what they are doing and the evil in them is genetic. Sometimes I even wonder if instead of sending their calves through the fence that maybe the cows have gotten a hold of one of the many pairs of fencing pliers that have disappeared from my truck over the years and are cutting their own way through the fence. I know cloven hooves and working pliers kind of shoots holes in that theory but I would not put it past them.
They have made me mad enough that I have finally started work on building that permanent fence. It is a long arduous process. All of you who have tried to dig postholes in the Flint Hills know what I mean. In any case I have started the process of building a better fence. This has led to the cows coming up and watching me put the fence in. I have decided that they are doing one of two things. First I am sure they are mocking me. I am not exactly sure what they are saying about me, but I know for sure that they are making fun of me. I am also certain that they are passing this lack of respect on to the juvenile delinquent offspring, thus perpetuating the cycle of disobedience. I know they may look like they are chewing their cuds and watching the fence building progress but I also know it is much more.
I suspect they are also looking for weak spots in the construction of the fence. They are probably already plotting where they can make an escape from the new reinforced fencing. I am sure they are taking notes and holding strategy meetings on how to break back out into the green brome grass.
As mad as they make me I have tried hard to appease them by feeding them only the best hay. I make sure they feeders are full and I even roll some hay out for them to lounge on in the sun. Yet they insist on ignoring my good faith efforts and continue to trample my fence and eat my brome. Mocking me the whole time.
I have concluded that as much as I love my job and I really enjoy running cows, they do not reciprocate the feelings and are very self-centered. The only real satisfaction I have is the fact that I know that no matter what they may do, in the end I will win. Because no matter how many times they foil my well-made plans and circumvent my authority, they might win the battle. However, I smile with satisfaction each night as I look at my hamburger on my plate because I have won the war.