Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Of course I have heard of cows

I went to one of the other AG universities in the country (no, not Texas A&M) & then lived off-campus while A finished his degree. I once had to call in to work because cows had gotten loose in the apartment parking lot & were slipping on the ice, making it very difficult to move them back to their pasture (& very risky if not impossible to drive).

I have better stories than that, though. After a freshman year spent in the freshman dorms, I moved to one of the all-female dorms on campus. & stayed there for the next three years (I truly never understood the desire to live in a party dorm, much better to visit & then go home, but I have always been of the do-not-sh*t-where-you-eat mentality). This particular dorm was actually one of the oldest buildings on campus & therefore adjacent to one of the oldest schools: the agricultural school. Unlike other virgin-volts/lesbo-lockups or whatever it is your school called women-only dorms this one actually had a waiting list. If you had to get up at dawn to milk the cows before class, you would want to live as close as possible, too.

This meant that pastoral views & healthful walks were literally just outside the front door. It was like being on a campus a la Jean Webster & not circa 198x at all. Except on Ag Show days. On those days the crowd in the barns could get pretty competitive & more than once I walked into the elegant pre-war marble showers to find another resident washing a sheep. No cup of black coffee wakes a person up quite like standing groggily under lessening hot water, hearing "BAAA!" & then the crash of a liberated ewe covered in soap-suds sliding down the main staircase into the front parlor & crashing usually somewhere around the piano. I heard that one once got into the big fireplace, somehow behind the firescreen & did really amazing things with the soot, but I missed it myself.

All of this came back to me a few weeks ago when I was driving back to campus to pick up A. I had his car (i.e. not my truck) & was driving past the big field one street over when out of the corner of my eye I saw it: one loan calf had made it across the cattle guard & was now slowly munching around to the street. Cattle guards can be very scary (to cows) which makes them very effective except when they fail, they fail miserably. The cow that was frightened & somehow made it across is very very very hard to convince to go back.

I quickly reversed the Honda, zoomed down the short entrance beeping the whole way. For a moment I worried it might decide the safest route was up over the hood & out onto the road, but it wheeled around & ran back over the guard, clanging & lowing. At the other end of the field I saw the farmer, rope in hand, stop his sprint, wave & walk back in the direction he had come from.

//the dorm itself was named for the Governor who vetoed funding allocations for the first women's dorm at the the school. Where I am from this is what passes for a very good joke.

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