I moved to the boonies of Northeastern Washington State to enjoy a simpler way of life. My spouse and I had a deal; he wanted to be close to fishing and skiing and I wanted to be as far away as possible from people. Yes, I can be the anti-social writer type. Oh, and I wanted trees…lots of trees.
We found the piece of property that gave us both peace of spirit. Sometimes while we are building our house, we just sit and listen. We hear the wind, the shimmering leaves of the Quaking Aspen, Chickadees and Thrushes, and the creek. Occasionally we hear branches cracking against the weight of a moose or a deer.
Late one afternoon, we were packing up as usual when we heard branches breaking. Our faces lit up. “Moose?” I whispered.
“Bear?” David countered.
Camera in hand, I started out of the house and stopped. If it was a bear, I probably shouldn’t go running towards it; I should wait and see if it comes out into the clearing near the building pad. David looked out through what will be the bedroom door, and I, the window. Everything was quiet. The dog went running towards the noise which made me nervous.
“I bet it’s cows,” David said.
“No suh,” I replied, like any good Bostonian should.
I grabbed the air horn and barreled down the plank in, of all things, my flip-flops. I could finally see through a gap in the trees and sure enough, there was the rectangular orange end of a huge free-range bovine trespasser. Well, I was not havin’ this, as they say. I squeezed down on that air horn and started a veritable stampede, if in fact you can have one with only five cows.
Dust from the arid ground filled the air, cloaking their escape. The dog, David and I ran up the driveway. Sure enough, between the tiny trunks of a grove of young trees, a 700 pound cow was hiding from me. It was pulling one of those squirrel acts – “if I don’t move, you can’t see me.” The damn cow was looking right at me, but didn’t budge. For some reason, I blurted out a couple of choice obscenities at it before re-engaging the air horn. I’m not sure why I felt the need to curse: compound noun curses no less. It was just a cow. And you know how cows have those long, sweet eyelashes. But there was something seemingly violating about a gang…I mean herd of cows muscling their way onto MY property to stomp out all the wildflowers they couldn’t eat, and then crap everywhere. The ensuing stench and accompanying flies just add insult to injury.
We ended the round-up by successfully shooing them up to the far end of our property, perhaps even onto the next parcel. I was hoping that this would be the incident that would end their need to share my space.
Three days later, they were back, not only in force but all over my building site, leaving huge steaming mounds of liquid turd everywhere, even under the hummingbird feeder. They were sending their message loud and clear: this meant war.
I may have spent the majority of my years near Boston, but I was born in New York City. I have always felt that was the basis for the straight-shooting, no-nonsense, territorial, skeptical and take-no-prisoners aspects of my personality. A word to the cows: you done did piss off the wrong girl.
I asked David if he happened to see ear tags or brands. “No, why?”
“Because I want to know who to thank for our delicious New York strip dinner.” Ha, just kidding. I couldn’t do that. I could however, shoot them with paintballs in the hind quarters, but since I don’t currently own a paintball gun, a far more mundane approach was in order.
Two young men, a couple hundred feet of used wire fencing and a few hours later, we had managed to block off most of where it appeared the cows were coming through. I had tracked them along the road and into the woods. I felt like I was in one of those tacky B movies where the Navy Seal trainer comes out of retirement to find one of his protégés who has gone astray. “This is where he went in, see how the tracks go here and here?” Of course, that would mean I’ll need to break out the face paint, the camouflage gear and the night vision goggles. At least I didn’t put my face to the ground to study the tracks.
We’ll see what happens. There’s still one large patch of meadow that needs to be fenced off. Let’s see if they have the nerve to go for it. If they do, I’ll be ready.