Jen Gienapp: Dealing With Cows

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - by Jen Gienapp

Having lived in Wyoming for almost four years now, I’ve grown accustomed to the wildlife that wanders across our front yard. The prairie dogs and rabbits are abundant, the antelope come and go, coyotes keep us up at night with their howling, and occasionally we even see them during the day. We’ve even had our neighbors’ horses walk down our front sidewalk, early on a Sunday morning.

But this morning, I woke up to find three full-grown cows grazing, not 10 feet from our house.

They did leave several big piles of manure for us, so that was nice of them.

We are used to seeing the cows in the distance. A rancher brings in a herd every year, and they spend the summer months grazing on thousands of acres of land. We love seeing the calves showing up, in the spring. Until this year, we would see them across our two pastures, up on the hills. These are not meant to be free-range cows, and have normally stayed where they’re supposed to in their fenced pastures. But this year has been different.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have watched as they’ve gradually moved into our neighbors’ pastures, and yards, then on into ours. They just go right through or over the fences, and seem to be very determined they’ll graze wherever they please. This is a very different and brazen herd.

One afternoon as I was leaving for town, I noticed one just standing in the middle of our neighbor’s paved driveway. She wasn’t grazing; she was just standing there. Another morning, the kids’ bus driver had to slow down and start honking at a bunch in the road. Yesterday, I got up from my desk, and noticed eight or 10 of them in our driveway. And then this morning, it was a little alarming to find the three right outside, not in our pasture, but in our front yard!

Cows are remarkable animals, and fun to watch. The mamas are massive, and the calves are really cute. They’re all pretty skittish, too. As soon as you approach them, they move in the other direction. Our kids have had fun rounding them up, while riding the four-wheeler. Our son was successful in calling them to the fence, while playing his trombone. One of our dogs will have nothing to do with them, and even though he’s miniscule in comparison, if he sees them, he’s in for the chase. It was amusing to see him corner three this morning, and watch the cows jumping over our fence in an effort to get away.

We do wonder how the rancher is going to possibly round them all up, because groups of them just keep popping up in random places and so many different pastures.

I will miss their mooing and their funny ways when they eventually leave, but one thing I won’t miss is the influx of flies we’ve had, because of them. Wyoming is generally pretty bug free, but the past month has been almost insufferable with them.

But for now, we’ll just enjoy the humor of it all, and wonder where we’ll see them next. And I’ll continue to feel sad that there is so much beef just wandering around my front yard that I’m not allowed to stick in my freezer.

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