The Cows

by Alliee DeArmond, Prayer Resident

READ CampDuring the weeks I was a Prayer Resident at the Ranch, I worked on my novel in the morning and explored in the afternoon. Thus I became acquainted with the cows at the neighboring dairy. I would speak with them from the other side of the fence, where they lined up when I approached.

One path ran right through a small corral where a few cows occasionally gathered. An instructional sign informed everyone to make sure to close the gates when passing through. Reading this sign, standing firmly on my side of the gate, I noted that the cows were significantly larger than the ones in Farmer Brown’s story book. Who would dare pass through? While the cows didn’t look particularly nasty or aggressive, they didn’t look very bright either. It seemed highly likely that either these enormous beasts, or I, could do something stupid with disastrous results.
Conversations about cows ensued at meals. Several meals. Everyone assured me I’d be perfectly safe crossing the paddock. One girl, who had grown up at the dairy, showed me a picture of a cow she had raised from a puppy—I mean, a calf.

One afternoon, I approached the gate, took a deep breath and screwed my courage to the sticking place. I opened the gate and carefully closed it behind me. A cow stood on the path between me and the opposite gate. I took a couple of steps toward it. She looked at me. “Hello,” I said in my best pleasant but firm voice. “I’m crossing to the other side.”

I took another couple steps toward her. The cow studied me for a long minute and then lumbered off the path. I thanked her profusely and inched forward. Unfortunately, now that I was halfway across the field, another cow was directly in my path with its, um, back, toward me. I cleared my throat. Nothing. Some chewy tidbit on the ground had this cow’s total attention.

It should be noted that the only difference between the path in front of me and most of surrounding ground was that the path was a direct line between Gate #1 and Gate #2. Any idiot knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Thus it had become my yellow brick road. It didn’t even occur to me to move off the path and start weaving between the cows. “Um, excuse me?”

At this point, the first cow, who had watched this little drama without expression, lumbered over and butted Mrs. Munchy off the path. She then backed up, giving me a clear path to the other side. “Oh, thank you,” I said, my eyes filling with gratitude. “You are wonderful.” I will admit that I did not go up and pat her neck, or kiss her nose, or scratch her ears or whatever one does to cow friends. I scurried to the other side and through the gate, carefully closing it behind me.

I suspect that my rescuing cow was the one raised by the young woman. However, despite seeing the picture, I couldn’t say for sure. To me, one cow looks very much like another: Ginormous!