Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A blog I read every day is by the author Robin McKinley who lives in England, though she is American, because she's married to a Brit. She owns a pair of dogs that she calls hellhounds for various reasons and each day she walks the dogs, mainly using public footpaths which give access to the countryside for everyone, even across private property. These paths have been around since medieval times. Today she wrote about why she sometimes walked on the illegal side of a path, that being when the path went through a field that could be dangerous to her or the dogs. One that might have a load of young male cows or a bull. In England the public footpaths are supposed to be kept clear of anything that can impede a walker. And that includes cows, electric fences, shoulder high thistles, bulls, etc. But often these rules are ignored. When she completed the illegal part of her walk she was confronted by a game warden and told she had to use the footpath or not walk on this piece of land any more. Because she, like me, had just read about a lady in Northern England who had been killed by a herd of cows while walking her dogs, she has decided that she will have to give this walk up. But she's not happy about it.
I totally understand her. When we're in England, and we use to go twice a year, and are planning a trip for next year, we like to take walks on the public footpaths. But I don't trust cows at all, they're devious and evil. Never mind that innocent looking bovine face. We've had more than our share of trouble with cows. A favorite trick of cows is to block the legal footpath so you have to leave it, you can't shift them, they just chew their cud and look at you like there's something wrong with you. We ended up in a cornfield one time (and if you've never walked through corn which cuts the heck out of you, you've never really known corn) because cows were standing in front of the sign that would have told us the correct way to go. Another time they blocked the only dry path on the moors and we ended up walking through bogs, and that's a scary thing to do on the moors. One time Mac was running (as he does each day) and he kept hearing the sound of thunder on the other side of a tall hedge. It turned out to be a herd of young cows who had decided that he was playing with them and they were enjoying it. Running as fast as they could and then coming to a full stop just at the end of the field. Still another time we walked through a field a cows who paid no attention to us at all, just ate their grass never looking our way (which is how we like it), but as started to open a gate to leave a field Mac looked over his shoulder and there were about 50 cows waiting to go with us. We climbed the gate instead. Once on Dartmoor we came upon a sign as we entered a field warning us that a bull might be in the field, but if he was with his cows we should be ok. Mac claimed the sign was old and there were no bulls but I refused to enter the field anyway. We've learned that carrying an umbrella can help a little, but for the most part I prefer to avoid fields with cows.
In the last 10 years, 8 people in Britain have been killed by cows. That doesn't surprise me at all.
We had a friend in California who owned a dairy farm and she said that everything I said about cows was true, they're evil and plotting all the time.
So if you see a field of cows beware.

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