This time of year, many people, including myself, spend time visiting family and friends for the holidays. Long trips in the car usually make me really tired, and therefore are followed by long nights in bed.
Last Sunday/Monday I didn’t have that long winter’s nap like I had dreamed about all day.
After traveling more than three hours home from visiting my grandmother, I had a restless son who didn’t think bed was a good idea. His typical bedtime is between 9 and 9:30 p.m., but Sunday night it was 11 p.m. before his little eyes were finally shut.
Just as I was ready to crawl into my own bed, I heard a cow bawl outside the window. I ignored it because I often hear such noises – someone’s in heat, a new calf wants fed, etc. And I’ve gotten pretty good at determining which kind of bawl is coming from where, and sometimes even who. But when the second moo came a few short minutes later, I knew it was too close to be coming from the heifer barn.
Looking out the window, I saw three large Holsteins running down the driveway. OK, I assume it’s my largest heifer pen, which only had three Holsteins in it that day.
After yelling for my parents to wake up, I accidentally woke my son up too. So my mom stayed behind to care for him and Dad and I ran down the stairs to throw barn boots and coats on with our pajamas.
I was the first one out the door and the first thing that caught my attention was an udder, then large orange ear tags on another cow. Well, they most certainly weren’t my heifers. The dozen or so cows were very excited to be free, running all through the yard, exciting my heifers and continuing on out the driveway toward a rather busy road.
The flashlight I grabbed of course had dead batteries. So my dad was using his cell phone light to try and determine which of the eight milking pens had escaped. It was one of the treated cow bedded packs that had just gone through the parlor.
Surprisingly, my dad and I were able to easily direct the herd back up the lane toward the barn. We got our group back into their pen and the farm owner had found another bunch in the feed storage area. A few cell phone-lit counts later, we determined we were still missing a few more cows, which were hiding behind the compost pack.
Apparently when one of the farmworkers was chasing this pen into the parlor’s holding pen, he forgot to latch a gate behind him. So when the cows were released from the parlor, instead of being directed to their pen, they were able to simply walk out of the barn and go for an evening run.
Not exactly a night for a long winter’s nap, especially since I couldn’t sleep afterward.