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Cow Psychology

I feel like a country girl. I hardly identify with my city roots at all anymore. Having said that, there are times when I am rudely reminded of just how “city” I still am.

So- I’m at the gravel pit collecting rocks (don’t ask) and I suddenly get the feeling that I’m being watched. Lo and behold- I am being watched. Several dozen cows have formed a line a few hundred feet away and are staring at me. Well that’s neat, I think to myself, and continue picking rocks. I pick up some movement out of the corner of my eye and look up again. The cows are stock still but they seem closer somehow.

I go back to my rock collecting, tossing ones that I like into piles to be moved into the back of the truck when I’m done. I’m facing the cows now, and even though my head is down, I definitely see them walking towards me so I look up quickly. As soon as I raise my head they all stop moving. Now I’m familiar with this trick. I use it myself when I see someone I don’t want to talk to. Rather than running off or ducking behind something, I stand completely still, tree-like, and wait for them to pass me by.

I’ve been told this tact is crazy, and probably why it works- not that I’ve managed to blend with my surroundings. I get that now. It occurs to me after finding a few more good rocks that I could have some fun with this. I walk a few steps, the cows follow me, I spin around and they stop. And I walk a few more steps, spin around and they stop. This is awesome! I have a cow posse.

I also have a job to do so I force myself to focus and get back to my rock collection. I’m just about to turn around and heave a very large boulder into the pile when a cow snorts right next to my ear. Naturally I scream and leap into the air. This causes a bit of a commotion amongst the cows and that’s when I realize- I’m pretty close to surrounded by giant beasts.

I’m torn- I’ve always wanted to touch a cow and at least one is definitely within petting distance but I’m also suddenly acutely aware of how fucking big these things are. And they’re skittish for such big creatures. I figure if I make one wrong move again, like screaming and leaping into the air for instance, there’s a good chance they’re going to trample me into the dirt. Right?

I don’t know. But now they’re completely blocking the path between me and the truck. There’s no way I can get to the vehicle without climbing over some cows. And I really need to call someone who might know a bit about cow psychology. What are they thinking? Why are they following me and why are they closing in like this? Should I be nervous or is this an opportunity of a lifetime to seriously commune with some cows?

It occurs to me that cows might not be able to run up hills very quickly (I hope) so I take a few deep breaths and then make a break for the hill in front of me. We’re all on top of the hill now and I’m laughing and thinking about the fact that no one knows to look for me and I didn’t see a single vehicle on my way in- and probably won’t for days.

Now that we’re all on higher ground there is a clear path to the truck, though there’s still a dozen cows down there too. “Lazy ones,” I tell myself, “they’ll never get you.” They wouldn’t even try the hill. I race for the truck and jump inside. The cows kind of saunter down the hill and surround the vehicle. Nicely played cows- you don’t really need speed on your side, do you?

Hey- so guess what? There’s no 3G at the gravel pit. I can’t even call out. Which I guess is okay because I still haven’t figured out who I could call who might know enough about cows to explain them to me. Most of my friends insist that I’m lucky to live in the country but qualify the statement with, “I wouldn’t do it.” I don’t think they know cows. Shane knows about moose (“don’t chase them,” good to know) but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know about cows.

“Think, Brandee, think.” Okay- I could probably honk the horn and that might convince them to leave, if they don’t decide to tip the truck. One is rubbing his giant head on the passenger door as I consider this option. Buuuut, what if they don’t mean any harm and I’m perfectly safe and freaking out for nothing? Suddenly that part of me that races for the water as soon as I see the warning flag go up is thinking, “Scary- for sure- but cool, right?” Definitely.

So I get back out of the truck, slowly. I’m going to hang out with these cows for a while and, if they don’t kill me, I’m going to finish getting these rocks. Because- I might want to do this again. I want to at least reserve the option to do the whole Pied Piper thing again without the cows saying, “nah- she’s an asshole, don’t bother with her.”

Turns out- totally safe. You can hang with cows for hours. They get in the way, for sure, and they’ll shit on your rock piles without a second thought. You can’t talk to them at all. Or you can, but you can’t reason with a cow. Like say you want something that the cow is standing over- tough. You’re not getting it. Or I wasn’t anyway and risk getting kicked in the head. I don’t know if they like to be pet because I didn’t want to freak anyone out, but that’s my goal next time. And there absolutely will be a next time.

Waiting for me to get back out of the truck

Waiting for me to get back out of the truck

in front of the truck

in front of the truck

Hadn't loaded many rocks before these guys showed up

Hadn’t loaded many rocks before these guys showed up

Hey baby cow!

Hey baby cow!

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