Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fencing is an Olympic Sport

More 2012:

Monday I woke up expecting to do bookkeeping most of the day-bad enough on the best of days, but just plain nasty on Monday. I used to swear I would never do books. You know how that goes.

Thus Monday was already sporting a gloomy aspect. There was a weekend’s worth of everybody-home-and-nobody-being-tidy housework waiting for me in all its glory too. I didn’t exactly roll out a bundle of joy.

However there isn’t much that the first cup of coffee can’t fix or at least dilute a little bit, so when Becky went out to clean her pony’s stall before morning chores I had reached a reasonably even keel.

Then she came inside and asked, “Did any cows get out yesterday? There are hoof prints up by the horse barn.”

Oh, happy, happy news. A quick look assured us that the five heifers that live in the heifer barn were indeed ALL missing. Unbeknownst to us lightning had fried the electric fence controller and for some reason known only to the bovine mind they smashed a six-bar gate so badly it looked like a cheap accordion.

Coffee abandoned, boots donned, sorting sticks gathered, there was a mass exodus from the house. The miscreants were almost instantly located. They had obligingly sequestered themselves up in the pony yard. Capturing the hooligans was a simple matter of closing the gate.

Talk about lucky. Problem was that the pony yard is a long, long way from the heifer barn and the entire trip is unfenced. Instead there are no fewer than four driveways, plus a huge expanse of lawn, an old-fashioned bowling green and some odds and ends of garden, none of them designed to look like anything but a fun park to a bunch of heifers. It was easy to postulate that the minute we drove them out of the pony yard they would select any route but the one we wanted and the rodeo would begin.

Added to that, the fastest runner among us had just left for to New Jersey for his other job, so he wouldn’t be available to chase anybody who got out of control.

Frankly I was scared stiff at the idea of moving them from point A to point B. There was no way four people could cover all the exits, especially if one of the four was me. I swim faster than I walk and I don’t swim very fast. It was only a hundred-yard dash, but comparing the speed of those heifers to the speed of this particular old lady is like comparing Usain Bolt to a three-toed sloth. The boss doesn’t exactly motor as fast as he did back when he ran track either, although he still walks faster than I “run”.

The dark depths of the office and the mountain of dishes were beginning to look pretty good.

At the table after chores I sat drinking that long-awaited second cup of coffee and wishing there was a fence from the pony yard to the barn.

Any kind of fence.

Wait a minute. Why not build a fence? There was a whole pack of temporary electric fence posts right next to the porch.  The boss needed to go buy a fencer to replace the one the lightning ruined anyhow, so he could get some light wire, an extra bag of nice, new, yellow, plastic insulators and, perhaps most importantly, a roll of flagging tape, which surveyors use to make stuff visible.

Supposing we stuck temporary posts in the lawn, strung them with temporary wire, garnished them with temporary fence flagging and pretended that they were actually a real fence that would stop wild and woolly great big heifers.

Would they go along with our make believe? I posed the question to the rest of the crew and the consensus was, well, maybe.

Worth a try anyhow.

So the boss trundled off to Hand’s to get the missing components of our pseudo-fence and we went to work.

It doesn’t take very long to put up a fake fence. There wasn’t much we could do about the west side of the area that the heifers needed to transverse. There are barnyards, a cow lane, an old calf yard and a deep ravine there-no place to really put up such a structure. Thus we limited our efforts to the east side of the lawn and the east and north driveways and merely shut all the gates over on the cow side of the farm. If they got over there, there was no place for them to escape anyhow and we could just start over again.

When all was in place and our fancy little sorta-fence was hooked up to a real, genuine, brand spanking new fence controller, the boss went up to let the miscreants out of the pony yard. I didn’t see that part of the game as I was backing up the fence down by my flower garden, behind the big apple tree.

Almost too soon they appeared from behind the pony barn, heads high and all snorty and wild, but still inside the “fence”.

So far so good. Suddenly one of them veered west. The rest followed. (Of course they did; it is against the rules of the game for things to be TOO easy.) The boss went in lukewarm pursuit, since hot pursuit might have spooked them and that we did not need.

After a while they trotted back to the east, having perused all the lanes and barnyard gates. They made the turn north at my post and headed up to Becky at the sharp corner, while Liz blocked egress to the south.

Bada bing, they were in and astonished to discover that their own yard, (where they belong), still contained a watering trough and a barn where they could escape the flies, just as it always had. They settled happily back in.

As for us, I think we deserve at least a silver medal. Fencing is, after all, an Olympic sport. 


Denny Gross said...

Genius idea! I was waiting to hear that something precious got trampled, so glad it worked.

threecollie said...

Denny, thanks. It was pretty traumatic when it was happening, but then it went so well. I sure do miss having good herding dogs though.