We found the cows: four white Charolais steers bedded down in a waterway in the middle of a farmer's beanfield.
The same four white steers that farmer Tom's fieldhand has seen while mowing a waterway. The ones he had called Tom about, the ones Tom had called Stewart about, the ones that Stewart had called Mr. Palmer about, and yes, the ones that had caused the hired hand to be the butt of some good-natured jokes. Those cows.
Turns out the family at that pretty Campbell Road farmstead we had visited 5 hours earlier had known that there were white cattle sightings on their land, but had forgotten about it when they determined Tom's hired hand was a dope.
A lesson for us all: hired hands aren't dopes.
Well, news of finding the lost cattle traveled quickly and by this time we had a small posse of locals rounded up to help us....maybe 10 people or so. We decided to move the cattle back up that long farm lane and divert them into a 5 acre pasture. From there we could get them into a corral, load them up into our trailer, and have them outta there.
The first part of the plan went rather smoothly. It took only 45 minutes or so to get the cattle moving up the lane and into the pasture. Marcel quickly went home to get our trailer, which he backed into position at the end of their corral. We shifted our positions around and had a nice three-point-corral system laid out. Marcel and the other guys would herd the cattle into the corral and Laura would shut the first gate behind them. Then Mary (a neighbor) would push them into a second area of the corral and shut another gate. Monica (Stewart's wife) and I would keep them moving straight up and into the trailer, finishing the show of pure herding talent with a slam of the trailer door.
What a plan! We were so confident of success, even, that we ordered a few pizza's.
The cows, however, had a different plan. They weren't returning to the captive life without a fight and wouldn't go into the corral. After a long and painful hour, we had another stroke of bad luck. One steer broke away from the group and leapt right up and over the pasture fence as if he were an albino deer. *ahem* He ran back down that long lane and returned to the beautiful beanfield with the stream and cottonwood tree. NOoooo!!!
Well, we chased him for a bit but decided to call it a night. We collapsed upon Stewart and Monica's chairs, ate some pizza, drank some beer, and made friends with our neighbors on Campbell Road.
To be continued........
And I promise the next time will be the last. This suffering must end soon.