The Neighbor’s Cows

I’ve never actually met my neighbors. I prefer it that way. There is an access road to my one neighbor’s property that runs along the length of one side of my property. I see their truck and their suv drive along that dusty white road all the time but i never say hi to them and they never say hi to me. We’re perfect strangers. Best neighbors ever. My other neighbors that live across the street from me, they stop at the mailbox on the corner to empty it once in a while. I never say hi to them. They never say hi to me. I don’t know what they even look like, just their car. Again, best neighbors ever. Across the street on the other side of my property is a man that owns 22 acres. I know this because everyone in any kind of government office that has access to a map mistakes my property for his, and i have to hear about his property anytime i want to do anything from securing an address for my property to trying to get a private contractor out to stack and assemble some furniture. This man and his wife apparently owned 22 acres and they had a small herd of cows. I figured that detail out one day when i was standing in the yard and i heard “moo”. I stopped digging the hole i was working on and listened. Suddenly, there it was again, “moo”. The dog had heard it too! She was standing at attention with her ears up, a look of cautious curiosity on her face. I thought, “it couldn’t be!” I dropped the shovel and ran through the tall grass to the edge of the fence where i gasped. There stood 5 big healthy cows, tucked in amongst the trees and brush. They looked funny standing amongst the cedar trees. I had only ever seen cows in open fields. They looked so out of place between the branches, like stealthy secret cows; camoflauged. Sili and i stared at those cows for a good half hour. Sili had never met a cow, and i hadn’t been up close to a cow in over a year. I was beyond ecstatic that my neighbor had cows. It meant i would get to hear them and see them frequently without having to worry about deworming, keeping the flies at bay, feeding, and housing them. Over time, i began to realize that the cows only made noise at a particular time in the evening. They were only ever near the fence next to the road (and across from my property) at this certain time every evening. Soon i found out why. One day the dog went nuts barking and snarling and running through the tall grass in the direction of the fence. I followed her to see what the ruckus was about. I couldn’t see the men well through the trees, but there were two of them. I could see jeans and boots next to the pickup. In the pickup was hay. The hay was deposited near the fence, the gate was closed, and the truck disappeared. The cows descended upon the hay, mooing. Each evening i found myself in the yard doing chores, i would listen to the clank of a chain on a metal gate, the engine of a truck, and the mooing of contented cows living their best life. I hoped they were pet or dairy cows. I couldn’t bear to think of them slaughtered for meat. But, they were not my cows so it wasn’t my business. A couple months later the cows were all standing at the fence on a saturday. I looked over and noticed a calf. One of the cows had a calf with her. It was so precious. She was a really good mama, always checking where her calf was and nuzzling his head. If she walked in a certain direction, she turned to see if her baby was following. Sili and i stood in awe for a long while. New life had been created and was growing up before our eyes. I wondered if it was a bull calf or a heifer. Since they appeared to dwell among the trees, i began to refer to my neighbor’s cows as forest cattle. I enjoyed listening to the forest cattle moo in the evenings and when i heard metal clank against metal i knew it was time for their supper.

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