August 2nd, 2015 by Ed Bruske
We have flying cows.
How else to explain when a cow goes to bed on one side of the fence, but greets the morning on the other?
We first noticed this phenomenon last year. That’s when I placed our Jersey heifer in an area next to the main paddock to graze, enclosed by some temporary electric fencing. The electric netting is hardly three feet tall. Still, you’d think that would be enough to keep a Jersey heifer contained. Yet, the next morning there she was, standing in the driveway on the other side of the fence. Since there was absolutely no sign of the fence being molested–no sign of being trampled or knocked over–I naturally assumed the cow must have flown over it.
These days cows are flying more than usual because our heifer–Emily–became a mom and now is nursing her calf on a regular basis. We milk Emily in the morning, which means we are sharing her with the calf, technically speaking. In any event, there is a very strong desire to be together, both on the part of the calf and on the part of Emily. For us to have any chance at all of getting some of that milk, we separate the two at night, luring Emily into the permanent paddock with a bucket of grain.
When I starting doing this, I’d leave the paddock gate open to an adjacent pasture so Emily would have more area to graze. But one night Emily must have flown over the pasture fence. Because next morning she was nowhere to be found in the area I’d last seen her. Instead, she was hundreds of yards away in the upper pasture, grazing with her calf. Needless to say, we didn’t get any milk that morning.
Okay, so we now keep Emily locked up inside the permanent paddock at night. It’s enclosed by “no climb” fencing more than four feet high. The calf, meanwhile, will mope around an area outside the paddock, sometimes calling for its mom. Or it spends the night on pasture with the sheep, taking up his breakfast call in the morning, with Emily–feeling the tug of her motherly duties–calling back.
I guess I forgot to re-connect the electric fencing following a recent thunderstorm. We disconnect whenever there’s a sign of lightning so the fence charger doesn’t get fried. Anyway, when I awoke one morning, I heard the calf as usual but he seemed much closer to the house than ever before. Sure enough, when I went to the front door to investigate, I saw what you see in the photo above: our calf on the front lawn, looking as if he’s waiting to be served breakfast.
Again, no sign of any disturbance to the fencing. So I guess we have a flying calf now as well as a flying cow. I spoke to another farmer recently and she said she’s known Jersey cows to leap over fences four feet high. I neglected to ask if she’d ever actually seen a cow do this, because we haven’t. All we know is cows get put on one side of the fence in the evening, and end up on the other side of the fence in the morning.
As far as I’m concerned, cows fly.