Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Where Angels Fear to Tread

It may be noted that on occasion I have been accused of having Bovinophobia. That is, an irrational fear of cows. I do not like cows, and have been known to engage in high pitched screeching when unexpectedly coming face to slimy nose with one when say on a river float trip I came around a bend where one might be blocking the way while it was getting a drink.

I would argue that it is not irrational to have such strong feelings about those of the bovine persuasion and the following story will go to show the nefarious natures of these depraved beasts.

They're giving me the evil eye right now!
When I was a kid, I loved visiting my Grandparent's farm. I lived in town and so the fresh air, green fields, and animals were like an amusement park to me. The farm also had the usual compliment of assorted cousins around to keep things interesting. 

One particular visit found me in the company of my cousins Aaron, David and Sarah. As was the custom, I was expected to pipe down and follow the crowd in whatever it was we were doing that day. Be it swimming in the canal or having a dirt clod war in the corn field, trying to ride the pigs or building a fort on the back lot.

It was decided that day that fishing in the neighbor's pond was in order. There were rumors of monolithic catfish there and we all wanted to be the one to reel one of those monsters in.  The trip would require a lengthy walk down a winding and dusty country road. My oldest cousin Aaron, who we lovingly nicknamed Sasquatch because of his height, offered up that he knew a shortcut to the pond. All it required was crossing a cow pasture that was located on a hill just to our south. I knew that pasture to be filled with a herd of cows whose temperament was somewhat like that of a  pack of wild pit bulls. I immediately expressed my displeasure with the idea by whining but was immediately silenced by the icy glare of my companions. “We’ll just jog across and jump the fence at the bottom of the hill” said Sasquatch, “those steer won’t bother us.”

As we approached the rusty wire fence, I saw that the herd was on the far side of the pasture contentedly eating grass. They looked up at us with innocent cow eyes and and soft black noses as if they were posing for an ice cream ad. The aura around them was absolutely non-threatening in every way. World peace, hearts, and cows all wrapped up in one. As David held the fence apart for me to climb through he said “see, there’s nothing to worry about.”

I tentatively stepped through and carefully watched the herd for a reaction. There was none. I then took a few steps still ready to bolt back through the fence should one of those cows make any sudden movement but they just stood there placidly chewing their cud. Hmm. Maybe I was overreacting. As we reached the half-way point across the field I felt myself relaxing and enjoying the sun shining on my face.

It was then that I heard thunder.

I scanned the sky expecting to see rain clouds rolling in but there were none. I then looked over my shoulder at the exact time that my cousins did and in horror viewed the black and white stampeding mass of horns, legs and other cow parts coming at us like a tsunami of cows.

As a group we levitated off the ground and took off towards the bottom of the field in a high speed blur. Since I had the shortest legs and was bringing up the back of the blur, I witnessed my cousins leap over the fence at the bottom of the hill one by one as gracefully as antelope in the Serengeti leap over small streams.

I felt my heart pounding out a distress signal as I took a mighty leap and began to sail over the fence, the bovine freight train only inches behind me, blowing hot air and cow snot down my neck. As I reached the apex of my jump I realized with radiant joy that I was going to make it.

Photo by Horia Varlan
It was the split second after that realization that the barb-wire fence reached out, grabbed my pant leg, flipped me upside down and bounced my head on the ground soundly several times.

By some miracle the fence had taken pity on me and deposited me on the other side of the fence from certain doom. I hung there, hot tears of self pity rolling up my forehead, shredded pant leg mocking me and a very mean cow blowing it's hot stinky breath in my face.

So what is the moral to this tale of cows and woe? It could be that regardless of who is bigger or older, more powerful or educated it is imperative that you make your own decisions and stand up for yourself when you know what is right. It could be that it is important to know your own limitations. But mostly it is that cows are sneaky and mean and you can't trust them any farther than you can throw them.




  1. I hate cows. Remember those two we ran into in the back playground of the Jr. High? We chased those dang beasts up and down along the fence trying to "help" them find their way back to their field. I think they just enjoyed watching us run. Cows are only good for two things: eating and making fun of.

    1. Amen sista! I do remember those cows, I also remember the irate farmer who chewed us out for chasing them a mile away from his pasture. Just goes to show the old adage- no good deed goes unpunished.


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