The Day of the COW

16/02/2012 – Today, I drove my motorcycle from Christchurch to Golden Bay up at the northern end of the South Island; a distance of about 250 miles, roughly.   I’m going to spend several days up here visiting friends. It was a good ride though I worried during the first leg, if the weather was going to be bad.   From Christchurch to Culverden, it got progressively grayer and colder and I seriously considered turning around and packing it in.   But, I pressed on and not long after, the blue skies and sunlight began to return and from there out, the day will brilliant.  

The road up here took me through the central parts of the northern half of the South Island.   Towns with names like Culverden, Springs Junction, Murchison and Motueka rolled by sporadically.  But most of the country is beautiful farming country with green forested mountains around it.   Too rural for me, I think but beautiful none the less.

Some where around 5 pm, I arrived at Bob’s place outside of Takaka.   I really love this area and always have.   I’ve said often that just about the only rural area in New Zealand that I would seriously consider living in would be Golden Bay.  

It’s beautiful and it is progressive and that’s a nice combination.   It is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets and I only know about it because of my friend, Bob.  

He and I met when he still lived in Christchurch and I followed his move up here with great interest.   Golden Bay is an isolated area in the northeastern corner of the South Island.  There’s basically one road in and out and it goes up and over the mountains (Takaka Hill)  that stand between Golden Bay on the west and Motueka on the coast to the east.   There’s less that 10,000 people in the entire area and it is wildly beautiful.

Bob and I sat drinking beers for a bit and catching up.   Then he went down and milked his goats and I joined him.   At some point, later in the evening after tea (Kiwi’s call the evening meal, ‘tea’), the phone rang. 

It was the girl who’s living as a tenant on a  property that Bob’s daughter owns here in Golden Bay a mile or so from Bob’s place.   Bob’s daughter is in Australia just now working. The problem was that Bob’s been digging a big drainage ditch on his daughter’s property and one of the two cows that live on the property had walked into the ditch from the shallow end and had continued walking up it until she’d got stuck far up the ditch and at a level where her head was below the surrounding ground level.   So much for cow curiosity. The tenant had found the cow stuck and called Bob to see if he could sort the situation out.

So, Bob and I piled into his car with some ropes and such and took off to see the situation.   It was not long before sundown so we needed to get to it if anything could be done. When we arrived, it was much as described.   A cow was 50 feet or so up the ditch from the end wedged in with the sides lightly pressing her flanks and her head two feet below ground level.

Cows don’t seem to have any idea about how to back up.   And no one was keen on getting down into the ditch either in front of her or behind her least she panic and trample them.  

Bob first tried tying the rope onto her horns and pulling her backwards but that only had limited success as she’d turn her head backwards and look at us rather than backing up. Then we tried putting the rope around her neck arranged so it would not cinch-up and strangle her.   She backed up a bit with that approach but, in the end, Bob got down in the ditch behind her and tried a combination of a rope tied to one of her back legs and pulling on her tail while I kept a pull on the rope around her neck pulling her backwards.

Lot’s of fussing and pulling ensued.   At one point, she went down on her front knees and wouldn’t get up and Bob had to jump down in front and help her up. It looked for awhile if we might have to leave her in the ditch for the night and have the digger operator come in the morning and dig a big hole beside her so she could turn around. But, with a lot of pulling and encouragement and a few close calls, she finally backup up until the surrounding ground was low enough that she could clamber out of the ditch.   

Once she was out, Bob grabbed her head and soothed her (he’d bottle-raised her from a calf so she trusted him) and he took the loop off around her neck and I cut the rope looped around her back leg (staying vary carefully to the side so I wouldn’t get kicked senseless).

When all of this was done, we could barely see our way around in the dark.  He dropped some boards and clutter into the shallow end of the ditch so she wouldn’t enter it again and we were off.

So, it was an interesting day all told.   A beautiful motorcycle ride up the South Island followed by a nice welcome and a meal at Bob’s and then a big adventure in the near dark with a cow in a ditch.

Life can be quite surprising and fun at times.

One Response to “The Day of the COW”

  1. Kathy says:

    Awesome rural farm experience you had there!