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Take a break on us! #7

In our final series of Take a break,as we all head out of ISO and into the nearest cafe (seating for 20), we bring you something to make you chuckle into your cappuccino from A Year in the Mud and the Toast and the Tears by Georgie Brooks. Enjoy and order the muffin too!

A Year in the Mud and the Toast and the Tears By Georgie Brooks

From Page 94…

The horrible millipedes add to the incredible amount of animal life that surrounds me. A toddler and a baby are more than enough animal life so I am seriously irritated when the cows, obviously feeling they are lacking attention, begin staging breakouts. I have got no idea why they want to go when they have twenty acres they can roam freely on, with fresh water in their troughs. However, it turns out that whenever they seem to be peacefully chewing, they are in fact planning the next great escape. The first bid for freedom comes one autumn morning when I am admiring the view from my kitchen window (it is much nicer than the view inside my kitchen). Inside there is a high chair and a miniature IKEA toddler table smeared with fruit and Weet-Bix mush. The floor and the side of the kitchen cupboards are also smeared with this tasty mixture. Outside the kitchen I can see fields, blue sky and trees decorated with yellow and red leaves. Even the cows look like ornamental features of the landscape. Then I look closely at the cows. They are awfully far away. I strain myopically, trying to see if they are on my side of the fence. Just then Ginger breaks into trot and all of the others follow her. Bugger, it is obvious now that they are in our neighbour’s paddock. On the other side of this paddock is a farm with crops and then an arterial road.

Leaving the children where they are (God bless the fact that a high chair is so safe. It’s like some sort of wonderful legal child restraint that you are positively encouraged to have in your house), I gallop to the laundry and put on gumboots. No doubt about it, after three months I have finally got smarter about doing this before I go outside. When I remember. When I am not distracted. Or when I am trying to delay having to run up hills. Finally, the boots are on and I can delay no more.

I whistle for the Boddington (at last, a proper use for him besides eating the scraps off the floor) and set off at a run. Boddington, bred for the hunt, starts to bark excitedly as he follows me. I remember that I am not wearing a sports bra, and then in fact remember that I have not worn a sports bra since school, which was the last time I played sport. I stop running before I get two black eyes. I also stop running because I am puffed and because (technical farm reason coming now) I think that running towards the cattle will scare them away from me. I’d be scared if I saw myself running.

I walk towards the cows and climb through the slightly droopy barbed wire fence, painfully snagging myself in the process. It does nothing for my self-esteem to be unable to skilfully squeeze through, while fourteen cows have apparently nimbly seized freedom without any ill effects. I look up and down the fence line for the gap they have used to escape, but can’t find any obvious breach. Great, the cows are able to teleport. It’s rapidly becoming an incident from The Far Side by Gary Larson. I’m even the crone of the piece, with the glasses. I grumpily walk to the gate and prop it open. Then I walk in a large circle to get behind the cows. My plan is to skilfully muster them through the gate. They are busily eating the apparently more delicious grass that belongs to our neighbours. They all ignore me except Ginger, who suspiciously stares at me as she chews. 

I start to run towards the cows but they ignore me and keep chewing. I shout crazy war cries and wave my arms … still nothing. I clap my hands tunefully (Play School has been of some use at least) while I continue with the shouts and the jiggly dancing. Those cows are a tough audience and maintain their bland stares. They are at least looking at me now, but keep chewing away, uninterested, like insolent teenagers on a bus. The dog, encouraged by my madness, starts to bark and run towards the cows. Finally, bovine movement. I am elated and move forwards to encourage the cows towards the open gate so they can go home and eat the identically delicious grass on our side of the fence. Now a stampede of sorts starts and the cows begin to clumsily gallop (who am I to criticise) towards the gate and towards home. I am ecstatic. I am a real farmer and I have solved the problem without my husband. However, at the last second, the leading cow swerves away from the gate and runs back to where she was before. All of the others follow. They are now behind me and seem to be trying to get me to move through the gate.

I am still optimistic. I can do this. Surely I am smarter than a cow? I double back behind the herd and start my war dance again, whistling Boddington to get behind me. He throws himself into the role of a cattle dog, barking and snapping at the cows. Again, so close, but this time Ginger (what a surprise) is the cow who leads the breakaway movement. I try again and again. Finally, exhausted, I lean on a fence post near the gate for a rest. I will have to go back and check on the children. Then I will have to go and apologise to our neighbour, and offer to pay for any damage caused by the cows. I scratch Boddington’s head between his ears; he has done a good job. As I am resting there, Ginger starts sniffing around. She lumbers towards the gate and walks home. Slowly, the other cows follow her. I cannot believe it. Thirty minutes of ridiculous running around in my gumboots and the end result is that the cows have gone home when they wanted to. Excellent work. I feel there is a lesson here, but am too desperate for a cup of tea to ponder what it is. I lock up the gate behind the cows even though I know it can’t keep them in, and I slowly trudge through the damp paddocks back to the kitchen. In my absence, the toddler has decorated the walls with Weet-Bix. Acres of it. At least someone has achieved something worthwhile this morning.

For more on this book, go here

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