The sun rose over the farm again…
Cow noticed that it kept doing that. She was thankful really, even though it hurt her eyes. While it was dark, Farmer made Sheep make strange noises and Cow always wondered if she was next. Then there were also roving bands of drunken rednecks with nothing better to do than tip over poor sleeping Cow. She had never done anything to them. Nothing that she could recall, at least.
Rooster was on the fence again. He was probably going to crow soon. He looked busy cleaning his rifle. He always cleaned his rifle in the morning. Sheep said that he brought that rifle back from Vietnam with him. He would crow after he finished cleaning it, most likely.
Farmer was still in the house. He always slept late on Sundays. Cow wondered where he went every Sunday morning wearing the same suit that he had worn to Goat’s planting. Was he going to plantings at other farms? It was hard to be sure. Farmer was very odd. Sometimes he smoked without being on fire. Anything was possible with him.
Cow stood by the fence watching the house and barn. She usually stood there at this time of day. She liked to watch everyone go through their morning routine. She looked forward to grain from Farmer, too. But it was watching that kept her there. She had a few ideas on how to turn this farm into a highly profitable business. If she could only find a pen and some paper, she would draw them out for Farmer. She knew Farmer would never listen to her ideas, but she still wanted to draw them out for him.
The Disappearance of Mouse…
Cat came running out of the overgrown front yard and crouched by a fence post near Cow. She looked around suspiciously. “Cow, have you seen Mouse?” Cat asked in a smooth whisper. This question perplexed Cow. Almost every day, she saw Cat eat poor Mouse, or at least mutilate him and toss him around. And every day, Mouse came back. It seemed like Mouse was beyond planting, unlike poor Goat. Sometimes she wondered if there might be more than one Mouse. ( Not that she couldn’t count. Cow knew calculus. She just needed to see more than one Mouse together in order to be certain.)
“Sorry, Cat. I haven’t seen Mouse since you ate him yesterday,” Cow replied. Cat stopped stalking and sat up.
“Drats. Oh, well. You know I found another car in the front yard this morning?” Cat asked, knowing that no one would have told Cow yet. “It is near the porch, where that big bush is.”
“How many is that now?” Cow wondered aloud, staring at the bush. Cat always found cars in Farmer’s front yard. Cow could not see them; the grass was too high. She wouldn’t mind eating that grass, now that she thought about it. “I’m not sure. I think there are four.” Cat cocked her head. She was terrible with numbers. She couldn’t do calculus, and she only barely grasped algebra and trigonometry. But Cow didn’t expect much from an animal that spent the better part of the day licking her butt. She liked Cat anyway. It was fun to watch her chase Mouse or the little bugs.
Dog Chases Cat…
A distant barking rang out and began to close on the two animals. Cat jumped to her feet with her back hunched, hair standing on end. Cow just looked. It was Dog. Cow didn’t like Dog, or the way that he chased Cat.”Gotta run, Cow,” Cat meowed as she darted toward the nearest tree.
“Cat! Get Cat!” Dog howled as slobber flung from his mouth. He was so intent on catching Cat that he smacked into the tree. Solid wood cracking his skull, didn’t hurt his wits any. He immediately began jumping up, trying to snap at Cat, who was out of reach and hissing down at him.
Dog couldn’t make complete sentences. He reminded Cow of Farmer. Those two were best friends. The only big difference was that Farmer didn’t lick himself; at least, not where Cow could see anyway. How did Farmer clean himself on Saturday nights? Another mystery, Cow thought. Dog barked for several moments, then he ran toward the back of the house. He had that irritating, drooling smile on his face. He was proud of having chased poor Cat.
Farmer Finds Roosters Whiskey…
Rooster was not on the fence anymore, but his gun was leaning against a post. He was nowhere in sight. He had to have finished cleaning his gun already. Why hadn’t he crowed, yet? He might lose his job over this. The sun was clearly in the ‘up’ position now. He might have gone to the top of the barn, where he kept his corn whiskey distillery hidden from Farmer.
Suddenly, there was yelling inside the barn. It was Farmer. A few chews later, Rooster came running, almost flying, out of the barn. Farmer chased him ten paces outside, then stopped.
“You better run, damned Rooster!” Farmer threatened. “Don’t you never attack me no more! I’ll have you for supper!” Rooster ran into the thick, dark grasses of the front yard. Cat said that Rooster usually had Vietnam flashbacks in there. Cow hoped he would be alright. He was strange sometimes. Cow had no idea who ‘Charlie’ was, but Rooster was awful angry at him.
Farmer must have found Rooster’s whiskey. He would have to move it again. Rooster used to share with Farmer, but Farmer always drank it all. Cow didn’t blame Rooster for not wanting to share anymore. Farmer always had been selfish.
No Grain Feed For Cow
Farmer went back into the barn and emerged with a bucket. He looked around for a few seconds. He had poor eyesight, Cow knew. Then he began stumbling his way toward Cow. It was finally grain time. About fifteen feet from the fence, Farmer tripped over an old, rusted bicycle frame. He fell face down in the grass. He used words that Cow had no use for as he looked at the scattered grain on the ground. “I guess you won’t have no grain today,” Farmer decided. What? Couldn’t he just get more? Cow knew something about buckets: they could be filled many times.
As Farmer turned to apparently go towards the house, Cow spoke, causing him to stop and turn back.”Excuse me, Farmer. I would very much appreciate a dietary supplement of grain on this fine day. Unless you are late for your Sunday planting?” Farmer looked at Cow for a few seconds. He hated it when Cow spoke with superior, if not perfect, grammar skills. The anger was plain on his face.”Shut yer yap, Cow. A’fore I decide to have burgers for sup with my rooster.”
Cow knew Farmer was habitually rude. Everyone disliked that about Farmer, though Sheep said he had worse habits. She tried again to ask for grain in a polite tone”Farmer, sir. I would greatly appreciate it if you could find the time before you attend your Sunday planting to acquire another bucket of grain for myself.” That was as polite as Cow could possibly summon in the face of rudeness.
Farmer seemed confused for a moment. He mumbled something about ‘plantings’ and shook his head. Then he thought for a minute (it usually took him at least a minute to think). His face turned red. Either he was choking or he was angry. Cow assumed the latter. Although, Farmer had turned that color the day after Turkey had disappeared into the house. That day, Farmer had stayed red for a full minute before coughing up a ball of something. It could have been what Cat called a ‘hairball.’ It had been difficult to judge from the pasture. If it was a hairball, then perhaps Farmer did lick himself on Saturday nights after all.
“Dag-blamed Cow! I’m the man! I said no grain!” Farmer shouted. Spit flew from his mouth. He looked a lot like Dog right then. Oddly, he smelled like Sheep. Cow was losing her patience. Farmer always acted superior for no good reason. Perhaps, Farmer had learned this erroneous behavior from Farmer’s Wife. It was known all around the farm that Farmer’s Wife consulted the great Oprah box within a large chamber in the house. It was said by Cat that this ‘Oprah’ was the one that convinced Farmer’s Wife to journey to the mailbox and never return. Cow couldn’t see much farther than the mailbox, so that is where it looked like she had gone.
“Then let me out, Farmer. I’ll get the damned grain myself!” Cow wasn’t sure from where within herself those harsh words had sprung. She felt irritated suddenly by Farmer’s attitude. Goat used to say that stupidity was contagious and all humans were infected. Cow’s mind wondered for a second, though. Why hadn’t a goat tree or vine grown where goat had been planted? Another mystery. “What?!” Screamed Farmer incredulously. “Us humans is God’s greatest creation! You blasphemous cow! Don’t you never talk to me again! You were made to feed us humans!”
Cow always thought this was flawed logic. Humans were someone’s greatest creation? Goat had explained how humans were required to attend institutions of learning, where they mostly learned to make paper flying devices, slept, exchanged gossip, made fun of one another, and after twelve years they graduated. This was mandatory training to be a human. Then most of them, barely able to speak clearly or perform mathematics, found some menial task to perform out there beyond the mailbox. They knew little of the science that they claimed to master. They mostly drank intoxicants and sat around the great Oprah box grazing on packaged food.
Cow didn’t know how to operate a VCR, but she didn’t want to either. Watching that box made her sleepy. Rather than consult Oprah, she usually stood in the pasture contemplating the significance of infinity. Farmer interrupted her train of thought.
“Another word out of you, cow, and I’ve had it!”
“I take it that this means I’m not getting that grain.” Cow stated flatly. Farmer practically roared. He may have been speaking. Perhaps it was some secret farm language that Cow had never learned. Farmer had made the same sounds, once before, when he had dropped a concrete block on his foot. Cow didn’t see any concrete blocks around “That’s it cow! I’m going’ to make burgers out of you!” Farmer declared as he stormed off into the barn.
The Rooster, The Cow, The Chainsaw…
It was then that Cow noticed something moving from the high grass in the front yard. It looked like a patch of weeds and twigs…It was Rooster. He had covered himself in foilage again. He moved five or ten feet, then stopped and crouched down. What was he doing? Cat had left the tree. Cow wished she could ask Cat.
Farmer emerged from the barn with a chainsaw in one hand and a rope in the other. Cow eyed him suspiciously. Farmer had already cut his tree chunks for the wintertime. She didn’t like the look on his face. Farmer could be quite idiotic when he was angry. He would sometimes hit Farmer’s Wife if she didn’t do what he told, especially if he had been into Rooster’s whiskey. He had used more of that flawed logic then, too. He had rambled something about him being “the man” and that she would “do what he said.” Goat had said shortly after one of those incidents that this God fellow should really check his blueprints. Cow didn’t know who God was, or even why he left blue footprints behind, but Goat had once said that God was man’s greatest creation; next to the tractor, of course. Cow had seen several tractors. She had yet to see God.
Farmer yanked the cord and started his chainsaw motor as he came to stand before Cow “Now, let’s hear you say something else!”
Cow felt uncomfortable. This was the last thing Farmer had said to Goat on that Sunday last year, before he had ran over him with his rusty pickup truck (which was now lost in the front yard). Cow didn’t want to get planted, too. What was it Goat had responded with? Cow didn’t want to say the same thing. Oh, now she remembered. Goat had chosen that moment to challenge Farmer to a spelling contest. Farmer hadn’t been able to spell truck, but he sure could drive one.
“Nothing to say? I’m your master cow. It’s about time that you realized that.” Cow was confused again. She wasn’t aware of Farmer being a ‘master.’ If he hadn’t put this fence around her, she would graze just fine on her own. If she could open the gate with her hooves, she would. It was all clear now, though. This jerk kept her penned in this area on purpose. She had always thought that he was just too stupid to realize that he had accidentally locked her in there every day. There wasn’t that much to graze on in the pasture. She had to depend on hay and grain to keep from getting hungry. It was not her fault that he forced her to depend on him for food. That fence packed a mean wallop. Goat called it ‘electrified.’ He had said it was the same ‘juice’ that made the great Oprah box speak. Cow didn’t understand much about electricity; the grass grew just fine without it.
“Just what I thought. Dumb animals don’t have much to say when you put a chainsaw to their skulls,” Farmer said with pride. He may have been calming down. Cow was still irritated about being locked up on purpose. She had felt sorry for that pathetic moron. Now, she was getting angrier and angrier. She had almost forgiven him for running over Goat. Farmer was so stupid that it should be a crime against nature, she finally decided. Cat ran from the tall grass and dove under the front porch. She knew trouble when she saw it. Where was Rooster now that she saw cat? Rooster was nowhere to be seen, and his rifle wasn’t leaning on the fence post any longer.
“Farmer, I don’t think you have any right to threaten me with that chainsaw. I must protest. Call the sheriff.” Cow knew Farmer’s Wife had called the sheriff many times. He was not very intimidating; no one with chocolate frosting around his mouth ever could be. Yet, Farmer had calmed down every time that the sheriff had appeared in his rustproof car. Maybe if Cow had chocolate frosting around her lips, Farmer would be sensible. Then again, Farmer was seldom rational. ‘Sensible’ was not in his vocabulary, like most words in the English language.
“Call the sheriff? Hell, he is gonna want some beef when I’m done with you. Animals is food. That is the law.” Farmer was serious. Cow was not sure about Farmer’s legal training, but ever since Turkey had disappeared and Cat had found those feathers… And the sheriff had to be eating a lot of SOMETHING to get that big. Cow was beginning to feel as if she didn’t have any rights at all. She felt like she was just one of Farmer’s possessions.
Being planted was one thing, but being eaten was another thing entirely. She was still unsure what happened to Goat after he had been planted. It seemed like nothing had become of him, except some weeds and a few wildflowers (they didn’t talk so she had eaten most of them).
She ate grass and she didn’t like the way it looked when it came out the other end. She knew how Farmer smelled on Saturday morning before he apparently licked himself. She didn’t want to be eaten by Farmer or the sheriff. “I don’t want to be eaten. Can’t I just graze here in peace? Just like you graze in front of the great Oprah box?” Cow pleaded.
“You’re a dumb animal. You were put here to be eaten by us. It’s in the Bible, cow.” Farmer had mentioned that silly book again. Goat used to read it aloud to everyone on the farm, between laughs. He never could keep a straight face when he read from it. He had said that Jesus, a character in the book, was a drunk because he had changed water into wine. It was that comment that had put Goat on Farmer’s bad side, and later, under his truck.
Cow was not running away, so Farmer dropped the rope that he was carrying. He raised his chainsaw, as it let out a sputtering roar, and began to lower it over Cow’s neck. Cow was not sure what to do. Farmer was going to cut her into chunks, like the trees. What would Goat have done? Goat used to run, she thought. That never worked. Farmer had always caught him. A spelling contest would surely declare Cow the victor, but Farmer had already established his opinion of such contests.
Then the universe’s natural tendency toward entropy manifested itself in a most peculiar way…There was a loud cracking noise, and the chainsaw fell to the ground. Farmer began speaking that secret language of concrete blocks again and bent over clutching one hand with the other.
Then there was a second cracking noise. Something struck the fence post near Cow, sending splintered wood into the air. “Sniper! Everybody down!” It was Cat calling from under the porch.
Cow was really confused now, and so was Farmer. He was clutching his hand and shouting about how he had been shot. That was certainly odd. Then Cow saw Rooster crouching in the hayloft of the barn. He was covered in hay now. He had his rifle and was pointing in their direction. Rooster was silly sometimes, she thought. “VC! VC! It’s Charlie!” Rooster shouted as he took a gulp from a bottle of his whiskey.
Farmer was Charlie? Rooster and Farmer had been in Vietnam? Cow learned something new every day, it seemed. Suddenly, the air was filled with flying lead. The constant firing of the rifle made Cow’s ears ring. Rooster was very odd, indeed..
Cow saw Farmer fall clutching his left leg. He was leaking dark liquid. And more bullets rained down just inches from Cow’s hooves. One hit the fence wire itself and broke it. Cow was free, if she chose to be. Another bullet hit Farmer in his back, and he collapsed on the ground. He was whimpering in pain now. He sounded like Goat had just prior to Farmer planting him.
Rooster changed magazines in his weapon and began firing again. Farmer was hit by several bullets this time. Cow thought that it looked painful. Farmer stopped moving, but Rooster kept firing.
Cat stepped from under the porch. She, like Cow, was looking at Farmer. Then Rooster turned his gun on her. Bullets threw dirt in the air as they barely missed. Cat sprinted back under the porch. Rooster began firing into the porch itself. He was certainly behaving oddly. Cow could see that the bullets were tearing right through the wood of the porch. She didn’t want to see Cat get planted. She had to do something. She sprinted for the barn, the bell on her neck clanged wildly.
Rooster saw her charging and a hailstorm of deadly lead fell all around her as she ran. In a wondrous feat of bovine athleticism, she did a somersault onto the conveyor that carried the hay up to the loft. Desperate to prevent both Cat and herself from being planted, she charged Rooster like a Cow out of Hell (or something like that).
“Its beautiful, man! Beautiful!” Rooster screamed, firing madly into the barnyard. He held the rifle in one wing and clutched a bottle of his corn whiskey in the other. Feathers and hay were being spun around in the air by the discharge of the weapon.
As Cow dove toward Rooster, something caught her attention. It was Mouse in a second floor window of the house. He had Farmer’s hunting rifle. He was aiming for Rooster. “No!” Cow screamed as she soared toward the mad fowl. The hunting rifle boomed. Cow knocked Rooster to the floor as she felt something strike her neck. Rooster was unconscious before he hit the floor; passed out drunk. Cow rolled onto her side, next to Rooster.
The bullet had hit the bell on her neck. She wasn’t hurt. Unfortunately, the concussion of the hunting rifle had smashed poor Mouse against the second floor windowsill. It was okay; he would be back tomorrow, she thought.
Farmer Laid To Rest…
Farmer was planted later that day. Over the next three weeks, Dog dug him up four times to chew on his leg. Cow finally convinced him that Farmer would never grow into a Farmer tree if he didn’t leave him planted. Dog said he liked trees, but Cow never could comprehend why he would urinate on something that he liked.
Cow was free to graze…in the pasture and yard, at least. Big, rustproof trucks raced by the mailbox all day. Cow was content to stay away from there. And grazing in the front yard, Cow found seven old cars, two lawnmowers, a tractor, and a covered wagon. Cow opened a very successful used car lot, which she used to buy herself that dietary supplement of grain.
Cat spent her days eating poor Mouse. Cow never did figure out Mouse’s secret. Cat never cared, as long as Mouse kept returning. Sheep seldom left the barn anymore. He usually stayed up late drinking corn whiskey and typing his memoirs.
With the front yard eaten down, Rooster had fewer Vietnam flashbacks. He still had problems of course, but Cow hid his rifle in the pond. Everyone assumed he wasn’t dangerous anymore. Too bad Cow never found his bayonet or box of grenades.
Everything was great. Well, everything was great, that is, until Rooster started consulting the great Oprah box…