September mornings, always glad for the days before cold sets in and the cows stay in for the winter. How cold my bare feet used to be, on almost frosty mornings when I set out up the hill in total darkness and heavy fog, 5:00 am, knowing the cows were there…somewhere. Stopping to listen, I would hear the tearing sound of them biting off great mouthfuls of grass, an occasional cough. Yes, cows cough! Once in awhile, there was silence, and there was no way to guess which way to walk in that dense dark fog. If I got to the fence line along the road, I turned back to make another sweep.
“Boss! Boss! Come, Bossie!,” I called.
The cows like their grain, and they come. In the daylight, you can see a straggler and round her up, but in the early morning, an empty place in the barn means another walk to find lazybones, or maybe a new mother and her calf.
Did you know that each cow has her own place in a stanchion barn, and goes right to it? Just like we had our own place at the table. Sometimes a greedy cow makes her rounds first, checking to see if anyone left grain or hay from the night before. Teaching a new heifer her place is a chore, one requiring a second person to head them in. A child with a stick will do, or if you’re lucky, a well-trained dog.
So many times I’ve gone to get the cows on foot, but I loved the years that I went on our horse Sugarfoot, cantering around, always careful not to make them run, as it hurts their udders.
Now I hear the 4-wheeler in the foggy dark, rounding the cows up. Certainly more efficient, but I did love the seeking and listening game every morning long ago.