Monday, February 10, 2014

Cow in Distress

Occasionally we get cows grazing in the empty lot near our house.  We hear mooing sometimes.  Cows wander into the cul-de-sac, but we've never had any problems with them.  I mean, cows can be annoying when they're in the middle of the street, but they move.

So today mid-morning I was struck, though, by some insistent mooing.  The cow I heard out there seemed pretty discontented.  I can't say I was really tuned in too much, Micah was home with a stomach flu and I had bigger fish to fry.  But when Owen brought Abigail home from pre-K and I went with him to drop him back at the office, I pointed to the cow and told him how loud it had been through the morning.  Then as we were pulling away I noticed that it was tied to a rope (not a typical precaution here) and that the rope had gotten tangled and it could barely move.  I felt compelled to try to untangle it and got Owen to pull the car over.  Owen, to his credit, said something to the effect that it was probably best to leave it alone, but I was already out the door. I was more than a little intimidated--I really have become quite the city girl.  I do not normally interact with large animals.

I started out by talking in what I was sure was quite soothing and confident Spanish, though likely cows aren't smart enough to care about languages--but hey, you never know.  I thought I'd look at the rope to see if it was actually tied to something or if the cow was just trailing one behind it and saw that, indeed, someone had actually tied it up. The cow had zigzagged around the space, hooking the rope on stiff weeds as it went, and basically come to a standstill when it used up its last bit of rope to get around a particularly thick and tall clump of weeds.  It must have walked a full circle around it at least once, so it wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.

I figured no one would be back to get it until nightfall (and then only so that no one else would steal it, not out of any concern for the animal's well-being), so I thought I'd have a go at untangling it.  I started with the tangled rope farthest from the cow, but eventually I had to get pretty close to its head.  I managed to pull the rope over the top of the weeds without getting the cow (or myself) too stressed, and left it in pretty good shape.  I was pretty proud of myself, and it seemed to me that the bull looked very thankful.

When I went out later in the afternoon and returned from my second school pick-up, I saw that the cow had gotten all tangled up again.  This time I was a little more confident and actually pulled on the rope firmly to try to get the cow back in the grass and out of the cul-de-sac so it would have more room to move around.  I must have looked pretty good at it because Jesse said, "Nice cow moves, Mom!"

Later, while I was washing dishes I heard some pretty plaintive mooing again and hung up the phone to investigate my cow's latest plight.  This time the rope was wrapped around its neck several times, which was both more compelling and more intimidating.  It looked like this job might require more cow contact than I felt comfortable with.  I mean, it would know I was afraid of it.  Horses do, they don't like me.  Nor do big dogs either, really, especially since I lived next to a pit bull that bit people and growled at me savagely every time I went near the fence.

My neighbor was outside, so I decided to enlist some aid.  I asked him to help me with the cow.  He told me he thought it was okay.  I pointed out that the rope was wrapped around its neck and that it definitely wasn't happy.  He said (in Spanish, of course), "It's not tight, it's okay, the boy will come for it ahorita."  (On a side note, ahorita is a tricky little term.  It technically translates to "a little now" and most countries use if for "in a little while."  But here in the D.R. my contact with the word has caused me to understand it as more like "sometime before tomorrow."  In fact, that's the most technical definition I've been able to get out of anyone.)  So I thought, "Fine, I'll help this cow myself.  But it's strange, I almost feel like my neighbor is scared to come out here."

This led me to double-check on this cow.  I mean, it wasn't so big (bigger than me, certainly, but not huge), and its horns were short.  But when I looked the cow over to see what my neighbor saw, it struck me that this cow was definitely male.  Hmm, so a male cow is a bull.  Bulls are dangerous, right?  I said, "Es toro?  No es vaca?"  "Si," he told me, "Es toro."  I told him I helped it before, hoping he'd feel more inclined to come out with me, and he told me I was a cowboy.  That sounded to my brain's self-preservation instincts suspiciously like, "You are in way over your head as usual," and I decided I needed to walk away.  The moos did haunt me, and I felt sure that the bull felt betrayed while I walked away.  Thankfully, it was gone when I checked on it an hour later, so it wasn't stuck there too long.

But I thought the story was too funny to not pass on to you.  :)

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