Baby Ate the Cow
The house where I grew up had a large, grassy backyard and a father who never liked to mow. My grandfather thought he had a good solution for this conundrum: a hungry cow. One day, he brought the creature down and staked her in the middle of a large patch of green, instructing my mother to “keep an eye on her.” If you read my last post, you may suspect that my mother wouldn’t know what to expect from a cow or why exactly she needed to watch it.
You’d be right.
We had a big, white dog named Baby (that’s a story for another day) who usually stuck close to the house, but was prone to escaping. This was the early ‘70s and most of the dogs in my neighborhood operated on a “free range” basis. That day, Baby was out wandering.
Meanwhile, my mom was in the house talking to her mother on the phone; in fact, she was complaining about the massive beast in her yard and discussing what sort of “things” she should be watching for when it came to grazing cows. My grandfather had only meant that she should let him know when the cow had eaten all the grass within her reach, but Mom was certain there were other catastrophes to fear. So, when she glanced out the window and saw Baby in the yard gnawing on a detached leg of beef a few feet away from my grandfather’s cow – who happened to be standing at a three-quarter angle – she lost it.
“Oh, my God, Mom, Baby ate Howard’s cow! I’ve got to go!” She hung up the phone and dialed my grandfather in a panic, repeating her observation that our sixty-pound mutt was lunching on his cow’s hind leg. My grandfather knew that couldn’t be true; still, he hustled right down the street (they lived less than a mile away at the time) to calm my mother’s hysterics.
When he arrived at my parents’ home, he did, in fact, find Baby gnawing on a cow’s leg. Our neighbors directly behind us were butchering a cow that day and they had given her a juicy leg bone, which she had promptly carried to her yard. The grazing cow, of course, was intact, but Mom was in pieces, completely undone by the thought that our dog could gnaw the leg off a living animal. Even after Grandpa took her outside and showed her that the animal was fine, she still insisted that he take the cow home immediately. In her mind, she clearly could not be trusted to protect livestock.
And so my father was once more faced with mowing the lawn. However, this wouldn’t be his last attempt at using a farm animal to avoid the lawnmower…