Thursday, March 25, 2010


Yes, cows.  One of the types of animals that I have NEVER owned, and honestly if I have my say, never will.  I am too tender-hearted to raise any food-animals, to be honest, and I'm not all that fond of cows.

There's reason for that.  That reason has a name.  It's Tommy.  I can't remember if that was the name that our farmer neighbor had given him, or if that's the name that WE gave him.  I do know that it was our fault that the name morphed into "Tommy the Turd."  Give me a break, I was 11.

Tommy was a white steer that belonged to the neighbor, a very kind man.  Tommy was not kind...  he was, at best, mischievious and bored, at worst, the bovine personification of pure evil.

Our first encounter with Tommy was with a small herd of other cows.  We had just moved from the suburbs of Kansas City to the country.  It may surprise you, but the suburbs are amazingly cow-free.  We had just learned that we had a quarter of a mile walk through countryside to get to the school bus stop.  We were young enough to be excited instead of dismayed about it.  So, we had our backpacks and were walking up the lane through thick, rolling fog - the kind that you only see when you live in the river bottoms.  And out of the swirling mist came... four gigantic creatures.  Tommy and three cows.  I didn't even register that they were cows at first... until one of them mooed at me.  We turned and ran back to the house, and insisted on an escort past them.  I believe that we got a ride down in the car.

The second encounter was at our house.  Someone (maybe Mom?) pulled the shade up to let the early morning sun in, and standing just a couple of feet away from the window was...  Tommy.  He wasn't alarmed to see a woman appear in the window.  He was, if anything intrigued.  How does one get a steer out of their front yard if he doesn't want to go?  One calls the farmer that owns him...

The rest of the encounters were all the same, just on different days.  Our neighbor, Tommy's owner, had given my brother and I permission to ride the 4-wheeler in his fields, which gave us a tremendous amount of freedom because he had a lot of land.  The only restriction that he put on us was that we couldn't make his cows run.  They might injure themselves, and it would make their meat tough.

Understood.  We would completely avoid the herd.  How difficult could it be?

It's important at this point that everyone reading this understands what a cattle guard is.  Sometimes, it's too much of a pain in the neck to stop and open a gate, drive a vehicle through, then close the gate again, so people get cattle guards.  These are metal slats that are set into the ground across the roadway.  In THEORY, cattle will not cross over these.  And it works, for most cattle.

It didn't work for Tommy, obviously, otherwise he wouldn't be strolling around terrorizing children and ex-suburban housewives on a whim.

But anyway, I digress.  So my brother and I would take the 4-wheeler into this field, carefully avoiding the cattle.

Somehow, though, every SINGLE time we were up there, by the time we wanted to leave, the entire herd would be grazing in front of the cattle guard, which we of course had to drive over to go home.  Every SINGLE time.  And guess which one was the instigator?  Oh yes, one could see Tommy edging the others in that direction.  As we approached with the 4-wheeler, he would always throw his head up and stare at us.  It looked like he was laughing at us...  was that an evil red glint in his eye?

It became a game to him to see how long he could trap us in the field before the rest of the herd got bored and wandered away.

Tommy.  To his credit, he gave us a lot of laughs, and made life more INTERESTING.  He definitely played his role in helping us adjust to living in the country.

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