This morning Farmer John loaded ten heifers and delivered them to the livestock auction, which is about 20 miles away from the pasture where these critters have spent the summer. John prefers to do this chore by himself. He says that if the cattle are used to just one person getting out of the truck to feed them each day, then the appearance of another person will upset them. "They can count," he says.
I have evidence that this may be true. One day last week I got out of the truck with my camera cradled in one arm and my three-year old grandson, Daniel, in the other. I swung Daniel to the bed of the truck and turned to take some photos, just in time to see the cattle startle and stampede toward Farmer John, who at that moment happened to have his back turned.
Time has mellowed my husband, and he did not say, "Get the blankety back in the blinkety-blank truck (expletives deleted)," as he might have in the past. He did have a comment, though.
"Thought I was a goner," he said.
I did too.
So I've learned to keep my voice low and not to make sudden movements around the cattle.
John cajoles and soothes, talking in a soft voice to the skittish animals, rarely touching them with his stick. "C'mon now, calm down" he'll say. And my favorite..."soo-cow, soo cow...." They pretty much do what he wants. Nevertheless, I'm not fond of the sight of my husband striding around among fifteen or twenty restless critters that weigh about 1000 pounds each. The cattle are armed with hooves and some have horns; John just has that slender white stick.
I'm impressed by the way John is able to quickly dance out of the way of any critter who does not cooperate with him. At one point today he climbed a panel, leapt to the ground, ran to a panel gate, swung it closed and wired it, all in less time than it took me to write this sentence.
Considering that he is eligible for the senior citizen discount at most restaurants, Farmer John's doing pretty well.