Tuesday, March 20, 2007

the joys of country life

We were awakened at 4:30 yesterday morning by the sound of Hopi growling from the foot of Starflower's bed, which she has claimed as her sleeping spot. Her growls turned to barks; prior to this I didn't think she even knew how to bark. Sally, usually the more vigilant watchdog, who sleeps at the foot of our bed, often on top of my legs, gave a slight growl but must have been satisfied that Hopi did an adequate job of alarm barking, because she fell asleep again.

The Hermit turned on the back light to reveal a herd of cattle, probably seven of them, meandering around the back yard, licking grease from the bottom of the grill, looking for any other sources of food. He went outside and chased them away; eventually they ended up back at the neighbors' on their own.

Our neighbors across the road keep a small herd of cattle on their too-small pasture, and their fences are notoriously unreliable. One day a few years ago we found a newborn calf abandoned in the woods near our house. We get cows coming over to our place a few times a year, sometimes eating our animal feed and leaving piles of free fertilizer everywhere. The neighbors are always apologetic, but they just don't get it. Part of being a good neighbor around here is keeping your animals where they belong. Although these folks can be hard workers at times, they just don't have the reasoning ability and common sense it takes to be good farmers and neighbors. They also don't have enough income from their disability checks to invest in some fencing, and their sister who lives up the road, who owns the cattle, won't even bother to give one of them a ride to the doctor's in Duluth.

We put up with it; they could be worse, at least they're not running a meth lab or anything. And their place is close enough to the road, and the sight of a grown man riding a bicycle in circles in the driveway likely makes anyone think twice about intruding into our place.

On the wild side, the kids and I saw a pair of fishers, an uncommon sight, running across the road just south of our place. Fishers are probably the porcupine's only natural predator.


Dan Trabue said...

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast...

Frost says, and yet he concludes:

He says again,, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Deb said...

Dan- I only wish these neighbors had the ability to read Frost.

Anonymous said...

Fishers!! A treat indeed!! Very few people see them, let alone know what they are!! My husband and I saw our first fisher up the Gunflint Trail. We were hiking along Gunflint Lake and one crossed our path and quickly scrambled up a pine. Consider yourself very fortunate.


MN Justin said...

Heck, if they're grazers give 'em a break... we need livestock on the land (instead of in confinement sucking down grain) so I am always inclined to sympathize with grass farmers.

I do appreciate your frustration though.

Deb said...

Cindy- That's the first time I've ever seen one. And to see two of them is even more unusual; it must be mating time.

MN Justin- I totally agree about pastured livestock vs. confinement. And I guess I'd rather have cows in my backyard than a pesticide-laden GMO corn field across the road!

Greg said...

Deb - I too can sympathize, but let me say I'd trade cows wandering through my yard over punk kids any day of the week. :)

Deb said...

Greg- Yeah, the first day we moved into our short-lived home in the neighborhood where I grew up, a teenaged boy came running into the yard, chased by two other teenagers of a different race (which was which is not essential to the story) and he asked if he could come inside. Of course we said no, and he took off across the back yard to who knows where. I didn't feel good about having the kids in the ground-floor bedrooms the whole time we were there. At least cows don't have any chance of carrying guns.