I ride a bicycle to the bring the cows home

I ride a bicycle to the bring the cows home (image by J. Fowler)

My in-laws gave me a bicycle
to ride with my two oldest sons
so we ride around the farm and on the roads
that intersect the farm we live on.

I haven’t ridden a bike in years
not since the free bike I had been given by a friend
was stolen from the backyard of the townhouse I lived in
years ago – where I lived with my Mom and sister.

Now I am a husband and a father – with many years and a few grey beard hairs later
The wind whips around my face as we roll down hill
my sons in front – with enough energy to ride forever without ever stopping
I had forgotten how riding a bike downhill causes instant joy.

Everyday we round up the cows – Lucy and two calves.
We separate them in the evenings.
On days when they are in the top pasture they often are stubborn and we chase them
around until finally they concede – and come back towards the barn.
Sometimes they run and, exhausted, I run after them…
until we decided to start using the bicycles.

So now we walk our bikes up the hill to the top pasture and search out where
the three cows are grazing or laying down
and once they are found we begin to sweet talk them.
Usually this doesn’t work
and then we have to get serious and force them
in whatever ways we can to get them moving.

Once they are moving if we do not track with them
they will go off course and doubleback into the woods
-this is where the bicycles come in. We jump on our bikes as the cows are running down
and I yell “Come On, Come On, Come On…”.
We are a gang of wheels and legs flying down the grassy hill.
One by one we shoot through the gate – cows and bikes and then the gate is closed.
Sometimes I wonder what the neighbors must think as they drive by.

J. Fowler

J. Fowler is the website editor and co-founder, along with his wife Pamela, of the Sustainable Traditions project. The Fowlers live with their seven children on a farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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