Things That Go Thunk in the Night
“Wake up! There is someone on the front porch!”
“Go back to sleep it is not anything to worry about. Just the wind.”
“Just the wind does not make noise!!!”
“Then get up and go see what it is.”
I put my pink fuzzy slippers on, grabbed my bathrobe and headed toward the living room window. I thought I saw something on the front porch. I thought; ‘no I don’t see anything, it could be a raccoon. I headed back to bed, my curiosity sated temporarily. I lay there attempting to go back to sleep. Thunk! I jumped out of bed determined to catch the culprit. I ran back to the window, threw back the drapes again and there on the front porch stood a large Holstein cow. The question is: what was this cow doing on the front porch. I am a city kid from Buffalo, New York. There were never any cows around! Maybe I was just having a nightmare.
Nightmares do not moo! I was still half awake when my oldest daughter came into the livingroom:
“What are you doing up?”
“I heard mooing, whats going on?”
“I have no idea; but there is a cow on the front porch… I bet she belongs to…”
Before I could get the words out of my mouth we began to hear a cacaphony of noises all around the house. We had calves two of which were asleep in the basement. No she was not ours. Our neighbor had over one hundred head that he milked twice a day, so she had to belong there. I ran into the kitchen, flipped on the light switch looked out the side door coming once again; face to face with a cow, standing and chewing her cud. I raced for the telephone on the wall of the kitchen:
The phone rang for roughly ten minutes until Chuck picked up:
“Chuck YOUR DAMN COWS ARE OUT!” I shouted.
“Are you sure they are mine?”
“Chuck, I am sure they are yours. The cows are all over the road, in the road, on my front
and side porches. They are in the hay field.”
“Okay, let me put some clothes on and I will be right there.”
I looked across the road; our neighbors were up: looking out the window with I imaged the same incredulous look I had on my face. One hundred head does not really seem like a large herd until you have to round them up. There is nothing dumber than a first time hefer which was apparently the one on the side porch mooing!
Chuck, the twins and his wife Meg appeared a half hour later. At this moment we were surrounded by things that go thunk and moo in the night. Every direction there were cows! Neighbors from up and down the road began to appear. Word spread quickly. Our neighbors across the road had just put in turf, there stood several cows munching away. I can only imagine what those people were saying...blue words no doubt.
One hour had already gone by. I ran into the bedroom, grabbed my jeans and shirt, it would have been extremely helpful if I had put on shoes instead of my pink furry slippers. I ran out the front door; my two girls behind me and slid on cow pies. Wonderful, after the girls stopped laughing I went back into the house and grabbed my boots. We began to round up cows. We chased four down the lane and back. We found one extremely unhappy cow trapped in our barn; to this day I have no idea how she got in there. We chased her out of the barn and back towards Chuck’s. One of the twins got her into the pasture.
Suddenly we heard our neighbor across the road yelling at the top of his lungs:
“THEY ARE EATING OUR NEW TURF CHUCK!”
Chuck was beside himself, first there were one hundred head of cows of which we had managed to get some twenty five into the pasture; that left seventy five more roaming around on the road or wherever they were.
It seemed as if as soon as we found a cow two more did a disappearing act. It was becoming a very long night. My older daughter came on the run:
“Mom, one of Chuck’s cows is well, it looks like she is having a calf on the back porch.”
“Are you absolutely sure. Well come on we can’t leave her there.”
Sure enough, there was a first time hefer, calving on our back porch.
“Sara, run go find Chuck NOW!!!”
My older daughter heard me:
“Mom, she can’t have a calf here.”
I must have looked as if I’d lost my mind:
“Allison, I am pretty sure the cow doesn’t give a damn where she has her calf. Sara went to get
Chuck. Better go heat some water on the stove.”
Allison left rather piqued. She did however put water on to boil. Now I had a huge problem, I am a city kid, I had no idea how to deliver a calf...it is a bit different than having a baby. I stood there with my mouth agape wondering what I was going to do if Chuck did not hurry up. I could see feet, was that the way they were supposed to come out or...was this a breech presentation. I had absolutely no idea. I could see a hoof from where I was...where was Chuck or Meg even the twins would have a better idea of what need to be done, that I did.
I waited until I saw the hooves appear, then the rest of the calf. By this time I was in hysterics. Chuck; finally arrived with one of the twins in tow:
“Wow, she is a beauty, Laura, you are not looking to good, maybe you should go lay down.”
“Chuck, I just watched a cow give birth on my doorstep, how am I supposed to look?”
“How many more head are you missing?”
“Close as I can figure about fifty head.”
I could feel my jaw clenching and unclenching, my eyes about ready glare down anyone that looked
the wrong way at me.
Allison and Sara camp up a dirt road with two more of the missing herd.
Dawn is almost here. Thus far the entire neighborhood had rounded up seventy five head. We only have twenty five more to find. The girls and I just found four in the muck. We have driven those back toward Chuck’s. Chuck finds me:
“Hey Laura, there may be more head down in the muck. Would you consider taking your
horse and riding down there. We are missing a first time hefer other than the one that
gave birth on your porch.”
I was to tired to argue. I saddled up Abernathy and headed down the old dirt road toward the muck. Muck is black soil and very fertile. I saw the other missing hefer:
‘oh lord here we go again.’ I thought. She was meandering around in circles. Once again I saw a small hoof appear. I was becoming an old hand at this now. She gave birth quickly. I managed to pick up the fifty pound calf put her over the horse and saddle. It wasn’t pretty but...I got the job done.
It was now six in the morning. The sun was already up. The girls and I headed home. Chuck, thanked everyone who participated in the round up. Breakfast sounded like a wonderful idea. Pancakes, syrup, bacon and eggs. We sat down. I remember bowing my head to say grace...I woke up several hours later, the fork in my hand.
Life on a farm is not easy but it has its comic moments.