Thursday, April 3, 2008

Adventures with bovines, and the boy who cried "woof."

March 16th and 17th

That night I broke one of my rules. I never jump fences to find a spot to sleep. Only this time the pines looked so safe and inviting that when I walked around them I was crushed to see a fence that was built right up next to them. I was tired, and the thought of going back on the road was not particularly exciting. Just this once I told myself and jumped the fence. The pine had gone well over the fence and provided ample cover. 30 feet towards the paddock was another fence.

"Great" I thought, "a double fence to keep the cattle well away from me." And I proceeded to make my bed and dinner. In the middle of laying out my bed, a hum of a four-wheeler caught my attention. I froze and hid my lights. I was more than willing to admit wrong if found, but if they could not find me, then it probably wasn't worth standing up and confessing. I waited, convinced they had seen me and were about to call me out. I hoped they were unarmed and not that angry. I lucked out. The spotlight missed me, and they drove away.

At this point, I felt it imprudent to make dinner or spend some time reading with a light, and resigned myself to being hungry and bored before I went to sleep. I had just zipped my bivy and closed my eyes, when a soft but large footsteps hit the ground. No lights visible, but a large four legged outline. Shit, a cow. Clearly the double fence was to keep cows in it and not out of it. Hmmm. I rustled and the cow froze, then snorted, walked about 10 feet from me, absorbed the situation and started making baying noises that sounded suggestive and angry at the same time.

At roughly 200 lbs, I’m a large person, but this well-fed beast was at the very least 10 times my size. While I am quite aware that most cattle will run from a human if scared, I also know a motivated cow is quite capable of taking on an unarmed human. Not knowing what to do in this situation and not wanting to yell out “go away cow” or something human sounding of that nature in my precarious position, I decided to cry "woof” – and could have not sounded more human. It worked. My bovine buddy jumped and snorted cautiously off into the night. I slept terribly despite the bed of pine needles. This no doubt had to do with the fact that my bovine girlfriend came back to repeat the same drama twice more that night. This was the worst night’s sleep on the trip. On the bright side, I did not get trampled.

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