As in, they make me wonder WHY I even bother with them!
Grace is always waiting nearby at milking time, 6:30 A.M. and P.M. She isn't necessarily beside the barn every time, but she has always been within calling distance for the six months I've been bringing her in twice daily.
This morning, no Gracie. I called and called. I walked out in the pasture to the point, which is about as far back as my knees want to go these days. It didn't help that the fog was so thick you could have cut it with a knife, so that even with the flashlight I could only see about six feet in front of me. It isn't like Gracie not to come when I call, because she knows she will receive some sweet feed when she comes.
I decided to step inside the house and wait it out. My knees weren't going to allow me to walk much more anyhow, and I knew the cow would eventually show up, bawling her whispery bellow as always, with the other two behind her. I was pretty calm until an hour had gone by; it is totally uncharacteristic of a milk cow to stay away from the barn at milking time. At 7 o'clock the rain started pouring down. I woke Cliff up so I'd have a shoulder to cry on, and he grumbled and mumbled as he drank his coffee and ate his cereal. "They must have gotten out," I said. "I'll bet a limb has fallen on the fence again and knocked it down. They're probably over on the Westerman property with Steve's cows."
Any time I have missing cows, that's usually where we find them, because they tend to go where other cows are... and oftentimes one of them is looking for a bull, although that wouldn't have been the case this time. Steve has always been very patient with us when we call and tell him our cows are with his. He's a nice, easy-going man.
However!!!! Two-and-one-half hours after milking time, with rain pouring down, I looked out the front door and spotted the cows in our pen where neighbor David used to keep his horse. Once they are in there, there's no direct route to the barn: They have to go round-about to get out of that pen, come around through the pasture, and walk into the pen by the barn.
I donned the most water-proof nylon coat I own and Cliff said, "You're going out to chore in the rain?"
"That's how I've done it all my life," I said. Of course I don't literally milk in the rain, because I milk inside the barn. But I did get pretty wet walking out there. I had to meet the cows halfway down the hill because the poor souls had forgotten how to get out of the pen they were in. *sigh*
It's OK. I'm so relieved all is well that I'm not even mad at them.