It was your typical Sunday, actually. I was on my way home from church, and crooning the lyrics to one of the great songs you can only sing around the holidays without people giving you “the look” or reaching for their airsick bag – when I turned the corner toward our farm.
And there it was, right ahead of me.
Large black beings on the road about half a mile down. And they were crossing the road. And coming out of our farm yard.
Our sons’ cows were out.
Among other thoughts, I was thinking, “Well, how ironic that I’ve just come from church, and now I’ll probably get a chance to use my religion.”
And there was a distinct chance that it could be used in a way that would raise eyebrows among those of the more hallowed circles.
As I neared the cows with the car, they were serenely headed north on the road, looking up at me as if I was the stranger there.
It made me remember one of the times when our hogs got out. Good Lord, they were everywhere-inside other buildings, running around in the grove and on the road, rooting things up around the house yard, and making friends with our goat, which worried me a little.
It was a regular four-alarm emergency on about 80 legs.
I wondered if we owed our neighbors some money that we forgot about, or if we’d fed them once too many times out of our kitchen … and this was their revenge.
But it didn’t matter-how were we going to get this swarm of pigs penned up?
Soon came the sound that was like music to my ears. Our children came out from behind the machine shed with the four-wheelers, ready for action. And what a calamity it was.
There were four-wheelers going in as many directions as there were pigs. It only takes one time of chasing hogs on foot to realize the value of a four-wheeler-horsepower behind four wheels chasing four legs-finally, a fair challenge.
Dare I say, you could almost bully them back into their pens if your hog-chasing, bully-driving skills were polished up and ready to go.
It’s like sweet victory if you’ve ever skidded to a stop in greasy hog dung and landed on your backside, or been pooped on while guiding sows back to their babies.
Pity that more people can’t enjoy this farm life.
During the process the garden was trampled, the rabbit cage was tipped over by a hog headed anywhere else, but there. The sidewalk in front of our house sported suspicious-looking droppings that we knew didn’t come from any mouse we’d ever met.
Hog calling sounds saturated the air, along with a blend of four-wheeler motors and the skidding of those tires in the gravel as the hogs stopped to do a 180.
Eventually the hogs all got back into the pen, with the only casualty being our grumpy, geriatric bunny who used to bite.
Both he and my garden were later eulogized. The hogs were tired, but back home where they belonged, and our then-middle-school-aged children were high on a hog-chasing buzz that no amount of energy drink could match.
And they were glazed in dirt – a farm kid’s badge of honor.
So when I saw those cows out that Sunday I called my husband who was at another farm. He came immediately and drove them back slowly in his pickup from his way, and I drove them from the opposite direction in the car.
Together we guided them back into the yard, where a gate had been left open. Barn doors and cattle gates can alter a farmer’s moods more effectively than Prozac – and it’s free.
Well, sort of.
We didn’t bask in the glow of completing the job with doughnut-wielding four-wheelers, but I didn’t even have to change out of my church clothes or lose my religion doing it.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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