Cast - Me (Mum), 18 year old daughter, 14 year old son, 20 month old son and two 18 month old Angus steer.Yesterday started with a bang, one of the 18 month old steers had gotten out of the paddock (well, how am I supposed to remember to turn the electric fence back on - I'm still new to this farm life?) and was trying to assimilate himself with the bulls in the neighbour's paddock. My first notification of the escapee was my daughter interrupting my hectic aerobic session in the lounge (I am aiming to 'shed and shred' with Jillian Michaels - although looking more like 'lump and bump'), pouring with sweat and cross when my body simply will not contort to those positions, much less jump up and down in them.
Taking my 14 year old to the bus, and chucking in the 20mth old (who I deny smelt like he needed a nappy change) we all piled into the car and charged down to the paddock. Leaving the 14y.old at the end of the road (King of the obvious 'Mum, the cow is out of the paddock' - where has he been for the last ten frantic moments of my life?), my daughter and I jump the paddock fence and jog the fence-line looking for breaks. 20mth old, cheering from his car-seat and waving a half-eaten slice of apple retrieved from behind his seat-belt, smells decidedly worse when we jump back into the car - not having found any hole in the fence!
The poor steer is now looking over the fence at us abjectly, wondering where his breakfast bucket is, and probably how he got to be over the other side (bloody grass was greener?). Meanwhile our other steer is nudging the fence, trying to join his mate, whilst we sit in the car (it was 2 degrees outside, and the sweat had quickly dried to frozen droplets) wondering what to do. As the stench from the nappy forced our move, we raced home for a nappy change and the metal snips.
The change, accompanied by hats and coats, was followed with intense conversation about how the (stupid cow) got out and lots of threats of what would happen to the him once I got hold of him which would make an RSPCA volunteer cringe. Piling back into the car after grabbing fencing materials, a toy drill and plastic pliers for my assistant, and the breakfast bucket treat of Chaff and calf Muesli,we charged back to the paddock. In out brief absence, escapee steer had attracted the attention of a large bull with quite large horns, who was making his presence known by shouting at the baby from across his paddock. My boy, miserable at having been noticed, was trying hard to ignore this behaviour and gazing sadly across at where his mate (who had been distracted by the lush grass at the base of a nearby tree) was standing. We drove down the paddock and realised that where he stood, there was a large gap between fence posts, and with both of us standing on the wire, we realised that he had simply walked over the fence (barbed wire and all!).
We enticed him between us with his bucket, accompanied by the bellows of the bull 10 meters away and the flashing lights of my car as the 20mth old played 'driving', but he wouldn't cross back over. Ingenious daughter thought of pulling out the staples holding the fencing, and we were able to then offer a greater distance between us, whilst the bloody bull was getting circling closer. The big baby, with his head in the bucket put his front legs over the fence, and then gazed around in muesli bliss, but refused to step over. A slap on his backside, saw a huge jump and to all of our amazement (including his), he was back with us.
Not having the time to then carry out the threats previously made, shaking from cold with numb feet and hands, I threw 20 months into his car seat, left daughter blocking the fence, armed with the fence tester, and then charged back home to turn on the electric fence. Charging back, I picked up the daughter, triumphant that all was finally over and our life could resume. Finally at home, I thought on the last hour's 'frantic-ness' and reflected that I had undergone more of a workout than Jillian's DVD could ever propose. :)