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February 18th, 2012

This week, the fish went belly up.

In summer, I have a pond full of goldfish.  Once you start having a pond, it is kind of hard to stop.  A pond without water is called a hole.  It would need to be drained, filled in, planted, etc.  And of course, there are the fish.  I assumed, the first year I did this, that raccoons would use this as their personal live bar, and I would be replacing them several times a year.  I was actually on my second school of fish in 17 years, although all but one of the seven I had left in fall were born right in my front yard.

It seems, if you give four goldfish enough space and enough food, you come back and find you have forty goldfish.

But this year,  they did not survive the winter, which is spent in a stock tank in the basement.

Oh, well.  In spring, I will have to decide if it is worth the effort to get more, or if I should stick to plants.

But within a few hours of my DH’s official declaration of aquatic death, we had seven new animals ready to take their place.

I came home from a trip to Madison, and as I neared the house I could see, in the distance, something moving around by our mail box.  As I got closer, I could see that it was a group of somethings.  LARGE somethings.

Cows.

Did you know that, if you are driving a Prius, you can get quite close to a herd of cows without spooking them?  Gotta love that electric engine.  But once I was a few feet off from them,   I kind of ran out of ideas.  Although I had uncles who were dairy farmers, the one we visited most often, Uncle Freddy, would not allow me to see the cows.  He said they were sensitive and would give less milk, if I went near them.

I was never sure if this meant that all Holsteins were drama queens, or if there was something about me, personally, that would dry up a cow.  To this day, I do not take chances.  I stay as far away from the neighbor’s cows as I can, not wanting to be responsible for the economic collapse of the area.

But there was no avoiding these cows.  They were right in front of me.  If I got out of the car, they would likely run away.  I could not exactly abandon the new car in the middle of the road while I went to get help.  My husband was not answering the home phone or the cell. I did not have the phone number for the neighbor who probably owned them.

I put the hazards on.

The cows stared at me.

I honked the horn.

The cows looked mildly indignant, wandered across the  road, and down into the ditch.  Then, they found our empty pasture, which is surrounded by a broken down barbed wire fence used for keeping the weeds inside from mixing with the weeds in the yard.

The leader stomped down the weakest point and led her friends inside.  They made themselves at home, penned in by nothing stronger, as far as I can tell, then Merrill hospitality.

Shortly after, the neighbors showed up on four wheelers, and herded them back up the hill to their home.  This is what ‘cowboys’ look like in Wisconsin.  They are as likely to be female as male, they ride ATVs for work and horses for fun.  And they wear winter coats and sensible rubber boots that manure will wash off of.

And they call, after to apologize when part of their herd has run through your yard.  To this, I laughed.  We are not much for gardening.  There is not much of our land that would not be improved by having a herd of cows trample it.  But I expect the dog will have an interesting time tracking them.  Labradoodles are easily amused.