Nevermind the Bullocks
With the exception of Thursday night and all day Friday, we had some miserable weather this week in the Middle of Nowhere. It rained - a lot - and was quite chilly and windy. Sometimes, it felt more like November than June. The long days were the only hint that it wasn't winter, although we didn't see much of the sun.
I tried looking for my keys once, early in the week, but didn't have any luck. I decided I would wait unitl the weekend, in the hopes the weather would be a bit better. Plus, the landlord had moved his cattle into the field so I was hoping they would munch down the grass enough to magically reveal my keys.
After my big trip into Macroom this morning, I pulled on my wellies and grabbed my hurley. I was optimistic that the keys would have surfaced. Peter was pessimistic, claiming that the rain and the cattle would have trampled and further buried them. Funny that we would both look at the same factors and come to completely opposite conclusions.
I had some small bit of apprehension, entering a field that was home to 8 sturdy bullocks. Peter thought I was being a bit silly. I thought I was being realistically cautious. I've worked with horses a fair bit - you never know what a herd is going to be like and just blundering around telling yourself the creatures are gentle and tame doesn't change the fact that they are unpredictable, half-ton animals.
I slipped under two sets of barbed wire fences at the bottom of the garden and checked for the cattle. They were over at the base of the hill, far enough away that neither they nor I was bothered. Two of them did stand up to get a better look, but they mostly just watched with a little startled interest.
When I crested the top of the hill, I saw two more cattle, the big black Angus pair, resting very near the area that I'd concentrated my searches. One stood up and watched me closely, an act that would have been intimidating except that he had a long stalk of grass hanging out of his mouth, reminding me of the caricture of the taciturn Midwestern farmer. Even so, I pulled back my search area and kept half an eye on the livestock.
When the second bullock stood up and took forceful steps in my direction, my heart rate quickened and I started to head toward the exit. When I stopped, he stopped. Then when I started walking again, he paralleled my progress. OK, so he wasn't a threat and I was being silly. I shook my head and noticed a big bare patch of grass. Last week, it had been a shag carpet of grass that was nearly a foot long. This week, it was clipped down to golf course length.
In the middle of this cattle-manicured oasis lay my keys, slightly rusty but in good shape considering they spent a week in the elements. I carried them home triumphantly and burst into Peter's office, brandishing my hurley in one hand and the keys in the other. My perseverance and stubborn belief that I would find my keys had paid off.
But, if it hadn't been for the cattle, I don't think I would have been successful in my quest. First, they uncovered the keys for me, then they nudged me in the right direction.