Walk on the Wild Side

One of the places I like to hike in summer, fall, winter has enclosed part of itself with electric fencing. When I first saw the fencing, I wondered why (duh) but yesterday I saw the absolute bovinity of the reason.

Cows. Moms and kids. I don’t think they’ve been in there long as the herbage hasn’t been chewed down and there were no cow paddies on the trail.

And the fence isn’t secure.

Not everyone likes hiking with cows. In California it was the way things were up in the higher mountains east of San Diego where I hiked most of the time once I mooooved out of town. I thought of that yesterday. Pastures. I hike in pastures. There are dangers involved in hiking in pastures, especially with heifers and calves, but (so far, apparently) I’ve only had one scary moment when a mom cow thought her precious child, Hamburger, or, rather “Grass Fed Beef,” was in any danger from me and my dogs. Heifers are very protective.

The BLM, Bureau of Land Management who has the care of the refuge, had put a sign on the (new) gate saying, “Cows in field. Please close gate.” I’m a rabid gate closer having once — as a little girl — allowed 20, 50, five million chickens to roam freely in the pasture between my Aunt Jo’s house and my grandma’s. I paid dearly for that sin of omission and have NOT committed it again.

We closed the gate and began walking. It was really, really nice to be out there with my dogs. My knee was fine, I was fine, the whole thing was fine, but I didn’t bring water and at 1/2 mile, we had to turn back. It was hot and 30 minutes is all I could see was fair to walk my dogs without a drink.

Meanwhile, almost literally back at the ranch…

As we were leaving, I saw a black cow and a white calf make a subtle moooove (yes, cattle may be large but they can be subtle) near the gate. I didn’t see them where they should have been when I passed the spot.

They’d escaped.

I got into the car, backed out of the lot and headed down the dirt road. There they were. Strolling together in the shade.

Trapped between an irrigation canal on their (and my) left and an electric fence on the right, Mom sauntered along with child behind. I wanted to find a way to circle around and drive toward them, possibly turning them where I would heroically open the gate and shoo them back in with the others, but the opportunity never came.

They made it to the busy county road at the end of this lovely lane. They were nearly hit. I called my vet, whose office is very nearby, thinking they might know the owners, but the woman answering the phone had no clue, and thought I was talking about the Alamosa Wildlife Refuge. As I didn’t know the number of the county road (I live Where the Streets Have No Name) so I could set her straight, I gave up. It’s amazing — but true — that people living in this tiny Colorado town don’t have intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny. I headed back toward home, and who should be coming out of Sonic but the BLM truck with an actual BLM worker inside. I blocked his exit and motioned him to come to my car.

I don’t think that would work in LA.

“There’s a heifer and a calf loose on the 3E.” (I’d learned the number of the road in the meantime.) “By the Wildlife Refuge.”

He grinned and said, “I’ll go see if I can herd her back inside.”

I came home. I hope they’re OK.




24 thoughts on “Walk on the Wild Side

  1. Oh yes, hiking with cows. I had the pleasure about a week ago. They are certainly curious creatures, if not a little unnerving at times.

  2. Now that wouldn’t happen in Switzerland, at least I don’t think so, although Mr. Swiss did meet three pigs once on a walk, all on their own. I havn’t seen any cows for a long while. They are fenced in with electric wires and because of the hot weather they are only letting them out during the night at the moment.

    • I had a good time hiking with some Swiss cows coming down from one of the stations on the Eigerwand. They were so used to people they were like big dogs. And, Swiss cows aren’t going to sneak up on you because of the bells. I think the bells are a real advantage to hiking with cows in CH. Our cows — out here — don’t usually have barns and their only shelter is trees. 😦

  3. Loved this piece. Such delightful humour (re the kind of fed cows they were) and the delight of the trek. So glad your out and about enjoying!!!!!!!!! wooooooot

  4. We have cows and we have fences, but they aren’t electric. Dairy cows. They don’t wander much. They spend a lot of the time sitting on the ground mooing at each other. When it gets really hot, they are herded to the other side of the road where there’s a little creek. They like to wade in the creek. I think it’s the road that worries the farmer. Cars drive WAY too fast.

    He finally enclosed the chicken pens, but that was also because of the coyotes and foxes who were taking down a lot of chickens. They still have a lot of room to run around, but they can’t ramble on down the road. More important, the predators can’t have a chicken dinner. Half of the chickens aren’t egg makers. They are decorative. Fancy feathers on their head. Someone has a thing for pet chickens.

    We walk around down there taking pictures and the barns are open, so you can go in and meet the babies.

    • This electric fence might not even be turned on and it’s only two strands. My physical therapist said she was running there and watched a calf climb through it. I can’t imagine chickens as pets, but I have friends who have them. We have barns, but I seriously doubt any of these cattle have ever seen one. Home on the range and all that, you know.

      Dairy cows are another matter…

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