The cows are gone. All eight heifers went back to the home farm of Shilling Hill. Our field is empty. Quiet. Our dog Nutmeg no longer has fresh Cow-logne to roll in. And I miss seeing them grazing and frolicking across the pasture.
But the moment won't pass without a video of their departure. See below.
When their owner, Bill Paxton, my esteemed brother-in-law and a dairyman whose farm is five miles away, came by with the trailer to pick them up, I decided to video the action. It typically is a pretty interesting ordeal. The cows felt at home in their private little field and had no interest in leaving it. Why should they? There is grass, a beautiful view, plenty of tree cover and, best of all, free food. Everyday is a cow buffet, including all the lush green grass you can eat, big round bales of hay and two buckets of delicious molasses feed every day.
This year, five of the cows got herded onto the trailer without too many commotion. There was hay inside, so that was the attraction. But two real troublemakers, Marble and Eyebrow -- both destined to be cow criminals -- decided to rebel. They weren't going anywhere near that trailer, although they ultimately were attracted to a trough full of feed immediately outside the trailer door.
But the real killjoy? You guessed it, my favorite Woolly Mammoth -- the smallest and youngest cow. She had to be wrestled into halter then dragged and pushed and encouraged and encouraged yet some more, especially with a couple guys finally getting their shoulder's against her back lags and lifting to get the half-ton cow into the trailer.
I'm sure they were confused as to where they were headed next. Bill hauled seven of them to yet another farm, where they proceeded to break through an electric fence. Six of the seven ended up at yet another dairy farm. But Eyebrow could not be found.
Bill searched high and low and finally spotted her in a valley. Knowing he couldn't catch her there, because she had been spooked and was letting no one near her, he left with plans to return later to try to corral her. But Eyebrow had plans. Always interested in free food, she made her way to the barn of yet another local dairy farm, where the farmer was able to secure her into a stall.
And so another Year of the Cow comes to an end.
I did not do a whole lot to get the cows on the trailer. I was filming the action and did some chasing of the cows in the field. All the excitement and activity caused my blood sugar to dip to 52 mg/dL, which is pretty low. I had to retrieve a thermos full of grape juice before filling buckets with feed to be used to attract the cows.
So the field is empty, as is the heart, when the cows aren't there.
Hoof note: If I do succeed in getting a kidney transplant, I might have to avoid the cows for months or longer. My UPMC liaison Amy Singh said she saw the blog where I noted that I raise heifers each summer. She said I will have to stay completely clear of animal droppings once I have the transplant and am taking immunosuppressant drugs. Any exposure to what comes out of the south end of a northbound animal could cause infection.
As much as I enjoy cow-sitting each year, I told Amy that when it came to cows vs. a kidney, the choice was pretty easy.