The joys of small town life…


In the small hours of this morning, my wife and I were awakened by a sound guaranteed to jerk us out of a sound sleep.  Incredulous, we looked at each other, only to hear again a low, melodious, inquiring “Moo?”

She, more awake than I, jumped out of bed to investigate, and came back giggling to inform me that we had a cow on our front lawn, sniffing curiously at the bushes in front of her study window.  It seems our neighbor’s herd had broken down the fence (again), and decided to go walkabout through the neighborhood.  Our cats, staring through the window, were Not. Impressed. by our large visitors.

We were shortly treated to the spectacle of our local police arriving in their latest-technology SUV’s, only to have to leave them on the road while they used their bright tactical flashlights to pursue cows who were having a very nice time, thank you, and didn’t see any reason to return to their field.  They were (literally) enjoying pastures new, particularly lawns that had been well watered by recent rains and not yet trimmed back to size.

(You can read my wife’s impressions of the incident here.)

In due course, the cows departed, and peace returned to our street.  Despite the rude awakening, we enjoyed the episode.  It’s one of the little things about small town life that makes it fun to live here.  Big city folks don’t know what they’re missing!



  1. A few years back I stepped on my front porch to see a neighbors daughter on a bicycle being followed by another neighbor's yearling bull. Homer, the bull, was still young and gentle so I simply drove him home and notified the owner. No response from the sheriff was needed but then I'm in an even smaller town.

  2. We had a cow-in-the-yard incident last year. The owner came and retrieved her, and patched up the fence. No damage in our yard, other than some tall weeds being munched on and/or trampled – hey, it saves me the trouble of mowing them. We'd invite the cows over for grazing, but most of our yard isn't fenced.
    (This isn't technically a small town, nor even a census designated place; we're in an area where farms are turning into subdivisions in between the little cities, CDPs, crossroads-with-post-offices, and other sorts of recognized settlements.)

  3. Good fences make good neighbors? Over the years my neighbors horses or cows have showed up uninvited but not causing any issues, I know the horses well enough to grab the old mare and lead the other three back home.

    The cows are a bit of a challenge. When the Quarter Horse was alive she lived for those days. It was no big deal to push the herd back to where they belong and fix the fence. On foot it takes a bit more work but the critters got the idea.

    My city boy neighbor and the local sheriff's deputies unsuccessfully chased, not herded them all over the countryside in SUV's and 4 wheelers. When they decided to have a pow wow on what to do next, the cows decided they needed water and walked home. The herd is gone now so no more free grazers.


  4. I am more green with envy and jealousy than you can imagine. I need a life that is like that.

  5. Of course the flip side to that is when you are coming home late at night on one of those dark, rural, country roads, and you round a curve to see a cow standing on your side of the road, munching on the grass in the berm. Did I mention that the cow was a solid black Holstein?

    I was going slow enough (…lots of deer in the area) that I was able to avoid hitting her, but it most definitely woke me up.

    I stopped at the next house and woke those poor folks up. It was their neighbors cow, but they assured me they would call them and take care of it.

  6. Hey Peter;

    Man the memories, when I was a kid, I herded cows from the pastures to the stables, just myself and one other kid, as long as we got the "head" cow to cooperate, the others followed as docile as cows on a stroll….Good memories.

  7. My wife built a house out in the boonies. We don't have a lawn yet, just gravel, dirt, and weeds. Our nearest neighbors don't have cattle, and those that do are well away from us, and are fenced. What we do have is chipmunks, squirrels, and birds. Hawks and eagles are in the neighborhood, but we don't see them regularly.

  8. I may have just been lucky in timing, but the cows across the street have never gone through their fence when I've been home. Not to say that the occasional drunk hasn't blown the stopsign and driven through that fence, fortunately without hitting anything solid like said cows.

    I do miss seeing a raptor in a backyard tree munching on some sort of smaller bird, but the trees were removed when they didn't really recover well from a freezing incident. Raptors never seem to sit on fences, but the turkeys will do so.

    Somewhat annoying is the coyote pack that hunts that hillside when the cows are in the barn. Very loud, and potentially dangerous. They have crossbred with German Shepards, so the alpha group that leads them are quite large. Odd looking, Shepards with coyote colors and tails. During their drives, they also have some that cover the street side of the fence line, looking for squirters. The trash pandas and 'possums that used to patrol the backyards of the neighborhood have mostly disappeared after the 'yotes showed up. Deer have gotten rare, also. Somewhat surprised that the city/county have not made any effort to remove them. Probably have to kill someone before they take any official notice. Life on the outskirts of Silicon Valley…

    Actually, the biggest problem is sightseers stopping to view and photograph the cattle, or show them to their children. Not much of a shoulder on the cow's side of the road.

  9. I would suspect that Texas is a "fence out" state. Meaning if you don't want livestock in your yard, you are responsible for fencing them out. That tends to be the trend in more western ranching states. Back east, the trend is "fence in" laws, which put the legal responsibility on the herd owner to maintain their fences.

  10. This happens even in deepest blue surburbia
    The rampaging bovines in Boxford crashed a beer party and were helping themselves to a fair bit of good local beer. This happened nearly 10 years ago not 5 miles from where I am. Here in this town about half the land is still owned/leased by the local Ice Cream joint to pasture some of its 300+ cows. Every once in a while the cows will bust fences and be out roaming some of our secondary roads.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *