The Trouble with Cows
On the night before we started our journey back to San Diego from Lowestoft, England, my husband went out to the Dolly’s Dumplings Cache in Carlton Marshes to leave our travel bug. For those not geocaching-savvy, a travel bug is a barcoded metal keychain that you leave in a geocache hoping that a fellow geocacher will go to that cache, open up the goody box, take your tag home and log its whereabouts into the geocache website, then hike your tag out to another geocache for someone else to find and log. In this way, your travel bug will travel the world and, cross your fingers, reach a cache near you sometime in your lifetime. We attached our travel bug to a black London taxi. Unfortunately, every time we planned to hike that bug out to Dolly’s Dumplings as a family, it rained. So my husband hiked out into the marshes on our very last night, all alone.
While he was hiking to the cache, a large group of cows started following him. He could see them clearly, as the sun stays out until 9:30 or later during summer in Lowestoft. And those cows could see him right back. At first, he just noted the mass bovine movement behind him and thought it funny. A few of them reminded him of dogs wanting to play, running toward him and then suddenly turning away. Then the cow pack picked up speed. So did he. Very quickly, it turned into a chase, with my tall lean husband fleeing thirty bulky but surprisingly fast bovine. My husband’s first thought was, “How do I get out of this?” followed by, “I’m going to be trampled by Lowestoft cows and never get home.”
He called me during the early moments of the encounter. “I’m being stalked by cows,” he said incredulously. “Cows?” I asked. “Cows!” he shouted. He was winded, he had been cutting back and forth, on the brink of an all-out flight for his life, after all. Safe in a house a mile away, I didn’t appreciate his fear. Cows are silly-looking, dull creatures who have never impressed me as being particularly smart or energetic. I couldn’t picture a pack of them chasing anybody. So I laughed. “I’m serious,” he said. “It’s scary.” He was headed for a small stream, he told me, and he’d try to lose them there. He planned to jump over the stream if he had to. He put the phone away saying, “It’s funny, but I’m really scared. I’ll call you back.”
I have since learned that cows weigh the better part of a ton and can easily outrun a human. And they do attack. A quick google search of “cow attacks in England” turned up a whole bunch of them in June and July alone. Folks were trampled, killed, and put into comas by cows. One guy was knocked down and then sat on for an entire hour before he finally managed to gouge the merciless cow in the eyes and escape. That man had a metal rod inserted into his back after the attack. In June, an authoritative body in England called the Country Land and Business Association issued a formal alert to walkers warning them to “avoid walking through fields with livestock whenever possible.” Well, that pretty much cuts out any field in Suffolk. Ignorant of the warning, I’d been walking my boys right past these violent creatures on our frequent hikes. I get chills just thinking about what might’ve been. I had no idea. And there weren’t any warning signs posted to give clueless walkers like myself an idea. Oh, they have graphic signs reminding you to clean up after your dog… but no “Beware of the Stalking Cows” signs.
I’m ever so happy to report that my husband eventually evaded the cows, and he did it without fording any bodies of water. He was able to turn around, hike back to a gated fence, climb over it, putting the wood between him and his pursuers, and get to the cache a different way. I’ve got pictures of the stream and fence from another hike, one with the boys. My husband didn’t have the camera that night he was chased, so no blurry shots of stampeding bovine. Eventually Daddy reached the cache and left our travel bug.
When he got home, my husband said that if the boys had been with him out there, he would have immediately hucked them over the river one by one and then jumped himself. Having lived through a ‘dog attack’ with my boys, I have my doubts about the reality of that statement. Sure, my husband could throw them, quite easily…but he’d have to unwrap their vicelike arms from his legs first. Maybe with a crowbar he’d have a chance.
So there you have it. Apparently we’d been putting our sons lives at risk for months and didn’t even know it. Those silly, dull, sneaky cows…