Sometimes, when I answer one question, several new ones confront me. (Questions are pesky like the flies around here, or worse: the slugs. More on that another time.) In the past the questions didn’t usually involve cows, but I suspect that my life might be changing. Cows come up a lot now. I’ve never before had to investigate them as much as…. Let me take that back; I’ve never had to investigate them at all, frankly. My life has been entirely devoid of cow mysteries.
Except for one.
Since my wife and I first toured our house, we wondered about the fence separating our yard from the neighboring pasture. It has a simple appearance–a single line of barbed wire attached to metal posts via plastic clips–but we worried that it might be electrified. It’s not.
I found out just the other day as I confronted the problem with grim determination, the sort that springs from fatherly necessity. It felt a bit like the first time I had to scrub the carpet after one of my daughter’s diaper failures: an unappealing task, but not one I could ignore for long. Also, because I’m a bit melodramatic, both situations felt life threatening.
If scrubbing baby poop from a carpet doesn’t seem to be on the same level with possible electrocution, it’s only because you’re underestimating my daughter. Calling her diapers threatening isn’t as far fetched as it might sound. However, I concede that the threat of an electric fence is a bit more self-evident, at least to everyone who isn’t a toddler. Therein developed the problem.
My daughter and I were playing outside. The whole scene could have been in a laundry commercial, or one of those commercials about how life is better with allergy medicine. Except, instead of horrifying disclaimers about how the medicine might give you explosive hives and make your ears fall off, there was a happy laughing little girl.
When she isn’t near her toys, she plays in one of two ways. Either she stumbles around awkwardly in search of new things to grab and lick, or she runs away from whoever is trying to watch her. (She’s the most adorable little fugitive, too. She can’t actually run in shoes; she just squeals, waddles a few feet, and falls over.)
Imagine my alarm when her playful flight took her toward the mysterious fence. Then imagine how time slowed down as I watched her begin to look for things to grab and lick. I’m a pretty whimsical person; I could joke about how I envisioned her glowing like a cartoon character being struck my lightning. I could quip about how I anticipated my wife’s reaction when I told her, my wife who knows how to kill me with her bare hands. I didn’t do anything whimsical though.
When I saw her approach the possibly-electrified fence, I stopped being a funny person entirely. Instead, I became an Olympic athlete competing in a single event: the ten yard dash. I challenge anyone in the world to cross the distance faster than I did. I think I heard a sonic boom. (It might have been my heartbeat, which had gotten suspiciously loud.)
Of course, having crossed the distance and rescued my daughter, I turned back into my normal self. Unfortunately, whimsy was not my first feeling. It was something more like excruciating and desperate need for breath. Imagine a precisely designed and manufactured race car roaring to it’s top speed. Then imagine that race car turning into a poorly maintained jalopy. As the adrenaline faded, I realized that I am no longer able to move that fast without consequences. If pieces could have fallen off of me, they would have.
Thus, while struggling to remain upright, I realized that I could no longer live with the mystery of the fence: running might kill me.
So I checked the wire for electric current. Readers had helpfully supplied me with a half dozen methods for doing so. There are apparently entire websites devoted to the problem of determining if a fence is electrified. I just walked up and grabbed it. It seemed like a colossally boneheaded idea at the time, but it worked out fine.
At that moment though, rather than being thankful about not being shocked or relieved about having one less concern for my daughter’s safety, I was confronted with the following question: “What’s wrong with my grass?”
You see, now I know that the only thing keeping the cows off of my lawn is a tiny wire. I’ve seen a cow break through thick wooden beams just to get to some concrete; surely that’s more difficult than a little wire. Why aren’t my neighbor’s cows trying to get to my yard. It’s on the other side of a fence; isn’t it supposed to look greener to them?
Cows nowadays; they’re so lazy.