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KAREN SCHWALLER

By Staff | Jan 18, 2013

There’s something inherently unnatural about seeing a cow run past your living room window.

At least we live in the country, so it might seem a little more natural there than it would be if we lived in town and witnessed that same kind of farm yard calamity.

We’ve had tractors, hay racks and bale elevators parked up by the house from time to time as household projects came to the front burner, but enough about my housecleaning habits.

That being said, even those things by the house don’t seem as out of place or worrisome as a cow on a home-stretch sprint past the windows that you’ve just cleaned.

You never know what’s going to come out the back end of that cow, whether she’s nearing calving time or just needs to use the restroom.

I don’t care who they are – cows, sheep, pigs, goats – they can sense an open gate with more intuitive prowess than a gypsy fortune teller. It’s their job to act all contented, letting the farmer think that they can be trusted, then as soon as they hear a chain rattling, take off like they’re at the Kennedy Space Center or as if they’re Mickey Rooney.

I’ve uttered the phrase to a few people, and I think it holds true for farm babies as well as humans. Bill Cosby once said that ” babies should be sued for false advertising, because nobody ever wanted a 14-year-old.” (Okay, so we do want our 14-year-olds, but you know what he was saying.)

I think we could make that a crossover statement into barnyard animals as well. They’re so dang cute as little babies, even pigs. But have you ever crossed a sow when she’s on a mission? Or tried to carry a couple of pails of corn across a yard full of sheep?

You’re either out of the way, or someone will pour maple syrup on you the next morning because you’ll be breakfast material. They’ll flatten you and won’t even work up a good sweat doing it. Then they’ll mock you by looking back and slowing their pace to a trot, watching us wave our arms and catch up to them.

All the nerve.

They all start out cute and loveable, and then grow up to be sly, cunning and proud of the way they can make us humans look like we belong in the kiddie pool of life. Have you ever tried to chase a hog into an open gate or doorway?

You might as well just get the nitro-glycerin pills out before you even start. They do love to test our athletic prowess, and our will to not become vegetarians as they run past that open gate or door for the 156 time.

After all, it’s their job to see if we’re worth the sausage. It’s not like they contribute to the breakfast meal like chickens do. As they say, all give some, some give all. I guess hogs just want to make sure we’re worth it first.

Operating the barnyard gate is a terrible post if you’re the kid or the wife of a farmer when things aren’t going well. It’s all fine and dandy until the whole herd of “whatevers” think they have heard someone sound the retreat, and they all come bolting toward the gate with the ferocity of a locomotive with no one in the engineer’s seat.

If you can get the gate locked in time, great. If not, you’re either breakfast material again, or you’re hearing the Lord’s name in vain from a voice that’s above you, but certainly not His. And even if the gate got locked in time, it’s now the shape of a crescent moon and you’re a hundred yards away to avoid injury or death.

Who says we can’t run like we did in high school track?

Back to the cow running past our living room window. It was quite striking actually, with the black cow against the red of the buildings and the white of the snow all around.

Once again, it’s all fine and dandy until you see people running behind with their arms waving. Somehow it takes away from the serenity of the scene, even if the cow isn’t supposed to be out. There always has to be a farmer running behind.

It seems somehow unfair for farm animals to be chased by humans – four legs against two. Even the government would complain about that gross injustice, I think.

I once read something that said, “Live like someone left the gate open.”

Around here, the gates really do get left open, and living here then is not a pleasant experience. It’s obvious that the person who invented that saying never lived on a farm.

Many I know live like someone left the barn door open only the barn door isn’t on the barn. I guess there will always be a need for a farm mom or wife, if only to help us get dressed, and make sure all barn doors are closed when the day begins.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net

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