Monday, March 16, 2009

The Great Prison Break

Made pages already today. YEY! Very encouraging, especially since getting pills down the Maxine has proved increasingly difficult. Yesterday Dad was a hero since he remembered that when I gave pills to the old dog I hid them in peanut butter sandwiches. It took the Old Man Max a few months to get wise to it. It took Maxine about a day. I think she gets suspicious when we give her too many treats. So we’re back to me getting the shit bit around of my hands trying to shove melting gelcap antibiotics down her throat. Oh. Joy. But she’s happy and alive and last week that was all I could have asked for.

Finally got back on track for the third Taylor book. I keep a forward momentum on rough drafts and keep figuring out where I need to go fix the old books. A weird way to write, but it works for this series. The magic system is tricky, since sometimes it surprises even me and if all else fails, throw in a demon or have Tay get pissed and get in a fight. I keep swearing I’ll quit talking about my characters like they’re real people, but so far no luck. Oh well.

Before Maxine got hurt last week, I meant to blog about the great prison break. Last Monday, I get a series of frantic calls from Gram and Dad about 7:30 in the morning. Now, I leave my phone upstairs in the morning and rarely hear it ring while I’m drinking coffee, etc, but I happened to go upstairs and caught like the eighth call and sixth voicemail from Dad and Gram: cows are out. Apparently, Gram opened her curtains and the entire herd, minus the three across the road, were all bedded down in her front garden, watching the morning traffic. I always tell her to just leave ‘em, they’ll go back in, but she got a little spooky and since she couldn’t get ahold of me, the eighty-five year old (I think) went out to try and put them back in herself. Dad had gone to work and was already in Diamondale, so he couldn’t help. Finally, I got down there to find the cow herd across the road at the little house and the big bull and the little bull trying to get at each other across the fence.

Now. I digress for some backstory. Big Red (the big bull) and Little Red (the younger bull) are good buddies. Like really good buddies. We call them Brokeback Bulls around here. Get my drift? All winter they bellow at each other across the fences at sundown like they miss each other so badly. So the jail break comes and both bulls are like, “Cows? What cows? I want him!”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: the cow herd is ambling toward the spring gate on the pasture side of the farm where we wintered the horses and three herd of cattle. The horses are now in the barn, so it’s just Little Red and two heifers. My plan is to get around them and open the gate, then run back and shoo the cows onto pasture. It’s March, but they’ll be contained. Oh well.

Instead, I drop the spring gate and the cows dash the other direction at a dead run, go back across the road, and run right into the barn yard. Score. Except one head. Big Red. I try to use my bull voice, but I’ve just sprinted down the road in heavy winter coats and knee-high rubber boots, and I can’t breathe. Mental note: up the cardio intervals. Anyway, Big Red is running all around, I can’t yell, so I get the reinforcements: Zip. Now Zip doesn’t herd cattle, he explodes them. Usually in the wrong direction. In this case, his track record follows through and he explodes Big Red right across the road to go romance Little Red again. I dash to close the gate on the cows before they escape and tell Gram she can go do what she does. After all, she doesn’t need to be out there helping me herd the bull. She’s scared to death of him, even though he’s one of the nicest, easiest bulls to get along with that I’ve ever known.

Ten minutes later and about six trips sprinting up and down the road, Big Red is lucky I don’t have a shotgun or he’d be a dead, rotting corpse in the middle of State Rd. I try to get him to go in the gate where Little Red and the heifers are, but one heifer escapes and Big Red keeps running past the gate. I can’t keep that gate open without Little Red and 5T escaping, so I try to run him around to the spring gate that’s still open. No luck. Keep in mind: sprinting, mud boots, heavy coats, dog not listening. Do I need to say I cursed the air several shades darker than just blue?

Finally, I backed my car up to the gate, opened it, turned the bull around from his b-line to the next-door neighbor’s yard, and pushed him through the gate. Score!

Then I realized the spring gate across the pasture was still open and Big Red and Little Red are butting heads as they run straight for it.

My bull can cross the pasture in 8 seconds and so can I.

Luckily, Little Red thought the gate was still there, and didn’t get out, but it was a near thing. The escaped red heifer went in a lot easier and I managed to capture all the cattle. Near as we can figure, Big Red or someone got rubbing on the main gate and it fell open. Actually, other than how fucking pissed I was at the goddamn bull, it worked out well. We’d been wanting to pull the bull anyway before he tried to breed the two six month old heifer calves still nursing on their mommas. But Gram’s yard has hoof prints about eight to ten inches deep and she freaked about the foot high piles of cow shit.

Maybe she’ll believe me now when I say the cows won’t go anywhere. Will post updates on how the yard project goes. Dad shut down attempts to get a landscaping service in to spread black dirt and reseed the whole damn thing. (Her lawn is about an acre.) We live on a farm. Animals, regardless of species, get out and make holes. This is far from the first time and surely not the last.

Boy, is she gonna love it when we get a boy and girl pig. ;-)