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Troy Mills has always been a strange place, as most of its inhabitants would attest to. Those of you who read The Great Air Hose Incident, know it as well.

Having lived on the outskirts of it for close to eleven years, I too am aware that the very air carries an aura of mystical eeriness. It is, in a word a creepy little town.

A few nights past, the Contrarian and I were cuddled up in our respective lazy-boys, our pinkie fingers laced together in mutual wedded bliss, as we watched another episode of something or other. They all run together in a phantasm of entertainment delight.

Suddenly, as the sun was about to depart to the netherworld, a throaty whiny gurgle yelp emerged from the throat of Bear, who along with Brandy, had been sleeping sharing watch over the meadow. Following was a scrambling of paws as the two departed, Brandy joining in with her high pitched yowl that always is interpreted as “Wonder dog to the rescue!”

We both bolted from our leisure. Well, given our arthritic bones, we hobbled to be honest, and made for the front door. Before I was able to get my knees bending properly, the Contrarian advised that there was nothing to be seen from that vantage and he proceeded to the kitchen to look East.

Before I had got more than a step or two, I heard a common refrain, “Jeeeeesusssss Christ!” I knew, life as I knew it was about to be upended.

I got to the window in time to see that we had company. Indeed, our neighbors were a bunch of nearly market ready cows of mostly Angus ancestry, who had been sauntering down the lane toward our hearth. The dogs were keeping a safe distance as they made inquiries, and the cattle (more than one cow is always accorded the appellation of cattle by the way), were milling uncomfortably within the confines of the narrow lane, unsure of what to do next.

Another “Jesus Christ” this time with more emphasis on the Christ burst from the Contrarian. “What are Wayne’s cattle doing down here! The fence must be breached.”

I pondered this, all the time wondering why Wayne’s cattle weren’t home with Wayne and his lovely wife Pat, since we were seldom blessed with their rude bawling (the cattle!) until August in any other year. The Contrarian exited the house and made for the Bronco, calling the useless dog specimens to the vehicle.

With some ginger maneuverings, he managed to turn the Bronco around, all the while the milling herd kept counsel with each other, not sure apparently what to make of all this goings on, and wondering no doubt whether this was some ritualistic manner of hospitality on our part.

In any event, they soon realized that they were being nudged ever so gently back from whence they had come. Upon the hill, so the Contrarian related to me later, they walked confidently and seemingly knowingly to the gate which was fully wide open. Swinging a lariat out the window of the Bronco, he was able to get them all to enter back into the pasture (read grassy field if you must), but for one recalcitrant and non-Angus interloper who may well have been picked up along the journey as a hitchhiker.

Returning home, all sweaty and breathless from his chasing of the cows of Troy (not to be confused with the running of the bulls in Pamplona), he put in a call to Wayne. Wayne was not at home, but even here in the rural hinterlands, we do have answering machines. A curt message was left!

The following afternoon, Wayne returned the call. “Those weren’t my cattle, I just wanted you to know,” he said. “I thought they might be Joe’s, (who lives a might closer to us than Wayne does), but they weren’t his either.”

“We went up there last night. Figured you must have heard us, whoopin’ and yellin’ and trying to herd them damn fool animals back into the pasture.”

“Nope, we didn’t Wayne. I got all but one in the pasture, guess there was more?” the Contrarian plaintively noted.

“Nope, but they busted through the fence and were in the corn.”

“Ahh,” spoke the Contrarian.

Now, cattle are not usually this sort of creature. They say you can leave a cow in the middle of a field and next day he will have traveled all of three feet. Horses on the other hand, are wanderlust critters with a mind to see the sights, given the opportunity. Leave one in a field and the next day it will be three states over.

In any event, apparently there is good reason why most fences, to be worthy of the name fence, are electrified. Cattle is seems are no respecters of either post or wire. Hence, they were in the corn.

Now plenty of things get in corn. People, or more particularly skeletons are found most every harvest time. We never knew why they were in there wandering until we found an old copy of a playbill, “Field of Dreams” it was. So we figure they are searching for the field, or Kevin Cosner (goodness knows why since he is one sucky actor in my opinion), or angling for a bit part in a sequel.

Well, Wayne and Joe got them back into lockup, and then called the sheriff. That may get you to wondering too I guess. But out here, we call the sheriff any time we don’t know what to do next. Could be anything from wondering if you can substitute Splenda with brown food coloring for brown sugar, to reporting that a particular tree is looking peaked, and should we operate?

Such nonsense, in some big city would get you locked up in the nearest loonie bin, but out here, it’s par for the course. And doncha just know, that someone had reported cattle being missing? Yep, they sure had.

Well Wayne, says “I got 12,” and the sheriff said, “well must not be the same herd, since the report said 13. Odd that TWO herds had gone missin.’ ” Then Wayne recalled that the Contrarian had mentioned that one had not joined the rest. So he related that to the sheriff and all agreed, that it probably was the same herd. (It might be noted here, that the qualifications for being sheriff are low. Having a working vehicle with a mount for a sireeeen is about all that is required.)

We never did find out exactly who had lost the herd, but they are somewheres around hereabouts. The twelve were returned, with no apparent injuries noted. We don’t know if any charges have been levied against the incompetent farmer or not. Losing animals is a fairly common occurrence around here, so I guess little effort is made to correct the problem.

One of those cows is still missing of course, and nobody has seen hide nor hair of it, or so they relate. The dogs have lifted a nose now and again trying to pick up a scent. But it seems mostly for show.

We’re just glad that we suffered no untoward damage to the hydrangeas or my petunias, though the Contrarian now wishes he had waited a while and let them eat down the weeds in the front yard and saved him some weed whacking.

The sheriff did call and ask what we were doin’ buying a new big old deep freezer. “Why just to store what promises to be a bountiful garden harvest this year, sheriff,” the Contrarian related in all seriousness. “Yes, a fine harvest is in store, don’t you think?”

**From mostly a true story, although the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

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