Just after 8 in the morning, I’m in the shower and something is amiss. Even above my less than melodic rendition of a tune by The King, I hear something strange.
I never hear noises in the morning in the Bretagne countryside, and yet there is definitely the noise of dogs barking. This isn’t good, there are two dogs, barking as if they’re on a chase. I’m the only person around here with two dogs, but they aren’t mine.
Naked, I run to my bedroom front window, and am horrified to see one of the cows from the farm behind being chased up the track running along the side of my house by two dogs that I’ve never seen before.
I open the window and scream at the dogs, who immediately turn tail and head back the way they came. I grab a towel, sprint downstairs, shove my flip flops on and am out the front door before I even realise what I’m doing. The cow is now about 80 yards from the road that runs along the top of my garden. Its not a busy road, rarely more than a dozen cars a day, but its early and there could be someone that I can’t see through the corn field to my left.
I jump over the 4 foot high wall at the side of my house, across the path and into the 7 foot high cornfield. My plan is to head to the top of the path, come out of the corn and slowly move the cow back down to her normal field.
The cornfields plan is to stab and cut my naked skin as hard and as often as it can, and to pull my towel off at every step. I finally arrive at the top of the field, scratched and bleeding from a hundred leaf cuts, with my flip flops pierced by a thousand shards of corn, and emerge from the corn field realising that I’ve somehow lost my modesty cover along the way.
The cow is now about 10 yards from the road, and although she’s big, angry and scared, I move slowly in front of her and raise my arms about waist high in the traditional “cushing” manner of herding cows. Traditional to me anyway, having seen Laura Ingles do it on Little House on the Prairie.
She’s now in a difficult position. She is scared of the dogs behind her, but totally bemused by this naked, elderly, blood streaked rotund creature thats just appeared from the corn field. Clearly preferring to take her chances with the hounds, she about turns and starts heading back towards her field.
Feeling quite pleased with myself, I slowly follow her down the path, “cush cushing” her along the way. I’m now nearly back level with the wall of my garden that I can jump back into. All is going well, until I hear the car. Right behind me. Turning around, I see the farmer, staring at me with eyes about three feet wide. Luckily it wasn’t a cold day!
Fortunately he was already aware of the situation, and even more fortunately, given that he had his gun with him, he knew it wasn’t my dogs.
It took my neighbours nearly two days to round up all the cows, over 150 had stampeded after being chased, and the owner of the dogs moved very quickly out of the village. We laugh about it now over an ice cold Pastis, but at the time he was probably the angriest farmer in Bretagne, and with good reason.