Monday, December 6, 2010


I think I just really hurt my cows' feelings.  I didn't mean to, obviously.

I was cross country skiing around our unfenced property, having misread the clock and thinking I didn't have time to go to the field at the end of our road to retrace my route from yesterday.  So I was doing the loop around our house which involves a short stint in the neighbor's five acres (which are for sale and which I desperately want to buy and am hoping the economy stays down until our income is up enough to nab it) and I got bored and I looked across our flat field of virgin snow, eyed the cows lounging in the barn, and I went for it.

My skis are new to the last century and me, this year.  We all got outfitted with 1980's sets of cross country skis from the ski-swap: this thing here in Spokane that takes over the entire fair grounds and is... just... pure mayhem.  So my ski boots/shoes are Addidas: silver with royal blue stripes and trimmed with: hot pink, garish purple, hot yellow, and red.  But seriously, these shoes are easier to put on, more comfortable and slip in to my skis smoother than any other pair I've ever owned or rented.  So I was cruising around our ice-covered snow.  Luckily we'd laid tracks a while back because when I put a new one down in the neighbor's field yesterday, I spent most of my calories on groin control and splits prevention.  But there, just beyond my own fence, laid my own pure field.

Without even removing my skis, I performed the miracle of opening and shutting the gate behind me.  The lazy cows looked up and smacked their cud.  I slipped through their brown snow and on to the crust.  I glided across the top, my skis just where I wanted them, my legs parallel, smooth, fast.  At the end, I turned the corner hoping to make a big square.  And just in time to see three winter fat cows RUNNING AT ME!!!  They were hopping, skipping, leaping, twisting, and RUNNING.  I suppose they'd kept themselves inside long enough.  And I had inspired them.  They were obviously playing, bellies bouncing, hooves flinging.  Either that, or they're actually predators confused by my prey like motions of flight.  But I'm family to them, so the natural thing to do would be to play with me too...or trample me.

Any time we're outside, they love to stand as close to us as the fence will allow.  This summer, every time we played tether ball, bocci ball, baseball, frisby, horseshoes, or whatever.  They were there, parallel playing in their field.  Not those games specifically, but it was like they'd catch the mood and join as best they could.

So there I was... cornered against an electric fence with giant, cumbersome, dexterity and flight preventing sticks attached to my feet.  I worried the cows would first stand on my skis and then trample me.  So I popped one shoe out and stood on it.  And that foot sunk two feet further into my grave.  My foot secure again in the awkward feet-antennae skis, I turned to face my bashers.  And I brandished my voice and my ski poles both.  I learned pole weaponry skiing in central Alaska where I was always prepared for a moose or a wolf out there in the fire break. And I yelled the same things I did back then:  "I DON'T WANT TO PLAY!!! I can't play with you.  You'll kill me.  You weigh five times more than me and I lack hooves!"  Sukie shimmied in circles around me, kicking up her back legs.  Hendrika stopped just short.  "Thanks."  Wild-eyed all of us, we stared eachother down.  I head-faked to the right.  She dodged.  And there we stood, wondering what the other was thinking.  We cooled off.  I skimmed away.  Only to be surrounded once more by the Swing Dance Heifers.  Maybe it was polka and they needed a fourth for their square.  They let me get a head start back to the gate.  I turned frequently to make sure I was likely to survive the next 20 feet and they looked at me with big, sad cow eyes.  The dejection of rejection written all over their long furry faces.  They looked truly forlorn.  And I felt truly guilty.  Here I am, their family.  Here they thought I'd come to relieve their winter boredom and all I could think about was myself, my own damn self and it's continued existence.  Ouch.  They charged again, once I'd crested the frozen shit pile. I stumbled and crashed out the gate before they were upon me. Huffing and puffing, I'm glad we all survived our exercise today.

A note about my world famous shit-ice pile.  The two feet of snow (under which lies our hose, somewhere) got all slushy for a few days there, slid off the barn roof to make piles right in front of the barn doors.  And this is where I had to shovel a very heavy, very special slurpee you can't get at 7-elevent (or maybe you can) twice a day, to open the doors in the morning and shut them at night. All the while mostly dodging the shedding ice sheets myself.  If I'd had any faith the slush would melt within the next four months, I would have left it there.

I am having some trouble with the wheelbarrow in this stuff.  I think I should designate a shit-sled for winter use.  But the point is that I can't really load up my wheelbarrow (held together with baling twine) with that slush.  So I just tossed it as far as I could with the shovel, thereby making these fabulous hasbrouck brown (or also: rootbeer candy) mountains that are now ice and are kinda in the way.

Isn't that enough for those cows, or do I have to risk my life and play with them too?  Aurgh.  The guilt never stops.

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