Rosie the Cow Laughs at Fences
One of my Scottish Highland cows doesn't want to be fenced in, and it’s a headache for this farmer.
Most of the Miles Smith Farm cattle respect fences. Fencing (not the kind with swords) is not a "one-and-done" thing. It's more like car maintenance; repairs are inevitable and necessary.
Nature and animals conspire to destroy this man-made restriction. Deer usually jump clear over some farm fences. But when the fence is just a thin electrified wire, sometimes they don’t see it and charge through. Windblown tree branches fall onto fences and break them. Electric fence insulators that are attached to a live tree get sucked into the bark as the tree grows, shorting out the electric charge. Cows, enticed by green grass on the other side of the wire, eventually figure out the fence won’t bite and walk through it. It’s a constant fight.
With cooperative cattle, we mostly win this war against chaos. If the herd has plenty to eat, cattle are happy to stay put and won’t test the fence. If a cow touches a fence and gets zapped, she’ll remember and won't risk touching the wire even if the wire is lying on the ground.
Despite occasional problems, my cattle have been going along with the program. Then I bought Rosie, a beautiful, red, 4-year-old Scottish Highland cow. She'll tuck her legs and leap over a 3-foot fence without touching it. Yes, cows can jump. Remember the cow that jumped over the moon? If the fence is sagging, she tramples right over it. Rosie sees my fencing as more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule.
It's not as if she has a destination in mind. Once out, she'll usually jump back in or stand at the gate and wait for me to open it.
Why does this drive me crazy? If she hangs around the farm, except for her ill-placed deposits, it's OK. But sometimes Rosie wanders to nearby Greenview Drive, where she'll spook the residents, then return to the farm. If she strolls onto the neighboring golf course, her hooves could tear up one of the excruciatingly perfect greens. That kind of damage could take a divot out of my pocketbook. It hasn't happened yet, but if Rosie decides to practice her swing, I’d be the one tee’d off. There’s also the danger that other cows will follow her bad example.
Rosie is a pushy cow who hogs the hay, so maybe the herd is happy when she's not around and don’t want to join her walkabout. But someday, they might follow her out. Golfers don’t like sand traps, but they’d like “manure traps” even less. Eventually, I’m going to find a new home for Rosie.
On a happier note, our newest farm additions -- six adorable and energetic calves -- are receiving visitors. Stop by Wednesdays through Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to see these cuties. And if you see Rosie strolling around the farm like she owns the place, please ignore her. She doesn’t need any encouragement.