Gate crashers moove in

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 28-Sep-2016

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YOU can’t get anything past Frank. 

But something is going on with his black cows that makes me think they are trying to pull the hide over his eyes – to achieve their own ends, whatever that is.

But he is on to them.

When we visited him on the farm at Axedale recently, Frank said he thought the black cows in his multicoloured herd could sense when the gate was open, a gate far from them, out of their line of sight behind trees and built-up pasture.

“You leave it open and an hour later they are out,” he said.

Frank is not the type to entertain crop circles – he hasn’t got time – nor alien abductions.

And the kids, husband and I wouldn’t have thought much of it if the herd hadn’t tried to out-smart us as well.

I’m not making this up.

I’m not a farmer but the cow behaviour we saw on the weekend was... interesting.

And it seems the influence of the black cows has spread because the entire herd was involved in their trickery and downright brazenness.

First, only a few cows approached us at the spot we had picked out for lunch by the Campaspe River.

A few of them were black – clearly they were the leaders.

Then a dozen more surrounded the car and started licking it – was it salty or grassy I’m not sure.

Then more cows came and crammed in between others like they were feeding and they also licked the car.

And when they tired of that, they moved in our direction and surrounded us.

Were they hungry, territorial, did we smell interesting?

My two daughters called “Dad” in squeaky voices and we held hands to keep each other safe.

We huddled together, the four of us, as the herd – 170 of them – surrounded us, and now and then an especially assertive cow – a black one – would move forward and sniff our clothes.

I remember that cows don’t eat humans and told the girls not to be scared.

But it was not only us surrounded by a circle of cows.

Our four-year-old blue heeler was with us, and even he was cowering against my shins and sitting on my shoes.

He let out a low growl when a largish brown cow extended her neck towards him. 

But his warning did not move the mob so either Maxie is a poor excuse for a cattle dog, or these young heifers had never seen a blue heeler before.

We waded through the herd which moved like Saigon traffic, towards the car to collect the snags and bread which was to be our lunch.

The idea was to find a spot where we could cook and eat in quiet.

But the cows followed us and surrounded us and we soon abandoned the idea and returned to the car.

We gently nudged the car away from the herd and headed towards edge of the pasture, drove through the gully and out of the gate. 

They followed us part of the way but gave up the chase and went back to behaving like normal cows – grazing on lush pasture.

And that is where they were when we passed by again after lunch.

These cows can’t get anything past Frank, but they sure got past us. - Sharon Kemp

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