Outdoors Column: The Wrong Side of the Fence

It was pouring down rain when I looked out the window early Saturday morning. Gazing across the lake at the fresh green grass on the far hillside, I saw a herd of about thirty cows and calves. I was somewhat surprised to see them there since they are not my cows. Even though a cold hard rain was falling, they seemed quite content. I was quite content to let them eat grass rather than go chase them in the rain. They did not appear to be going anywhere or hurting anything.


Sunday morning was cool and cloudy, but was not as yet raining. Thinking the dogs would not be much help in either fixing fence or chasing cows, much to their dismay, Louie and Jag were locked in the garage. I loaded up fencing equipment and headed out to find the break in the fence. Water was too high to get through at twin sluices so I had to go around the road and come in the South gate past Damon’s house. Seeing the ATV going by, Damon’s dogs knew something fun was going on and decided to join me. He has two terriers and a coyote hound, all of whom love to join in just in case we might be going hunting.


In general, cows do not like dogs. When cows have calves, they hate dogs. They assume any dog, no matter what size, is going to eat their calf. They will usually stop and fight with a dog rather than being chased. By the time I got to where the cows were calmly munching grass, at least a half hour had passed. My wife was sure I was far enough away that it would be safe to let Louie and Jag out of the garage. Where I had traveled three miles or so going the long way around the lake, Louie and Jag only had a quarter mile to join the party.


To attempt to herd cows and calves with one dog trained to work cattle would be one thing. It is entirely different to have three terriers running around the cows with a coyote dog and a couch dog bumbling along enjoying the scenery. Coming around the hill, the noise of the ATV startled the cows and they started running toward the timber. Seeing the cows would run, the pack of dogs all gave chase. As soon as the cows saw the dogs chasing, they turned to fight. Louie, the boxer, whose favorite thing in life is to sleep or go for rides in the truck, proved to be amazingly agile as he ran back to the ATV, jumped over the door, and landed on the seat with me. A couple cows were staring through the windshield as Louie tried to look invisible. He could not understand what they were so upset about. Three terriers, followed closely by a group of cows, made a mad dash and hid under the ATV. Damon’s coyote dog has been known to tree a raccoon or squirrel. Today, baying as he went, the hound was trying to tree a bull that was making a bee-line for home. Since the bull would not climb a tree, the dog soon lost interest. The cows finally gave up trying to get under the ATV to kill the terriers, gathered up their calves and went home.


I found where a tree had fallen on the fence and made the necessary repairs. I think, even given the opportunity, the cattle will not come back. They do not want to face that group again. The dogs, I am sure, do not want another round either. Everyone should now be content to stay on their own side of the fence.