Wild Wild West on Highway 41
A couple of weeks ago we had quite the exciting adventure.
We had just finished up a nice family afternoon at the Eganville Farmer's Market. We were on our way home, about 5 minutes out of Eganville when Jorie started getting messages from our neighbour who had heard that someone had seen some cattle out on the highway.
At first we were fairly unconcerned. There was a decent chance that it wasn't ours since our property isn't on the highway, and was in fact someone down the road who has had some 'cattle on the road' issues lately. We also assumed that if it was ours, that 'highway' in fact meant our road on the Opeongo.
Turns out we were wrong on all counts.
A little over half way home we saw what all the fuss was about. About 10 Texas Longhorns out, not on Opeongo Road but on Highway 41! Another group of them could be seen a little further down the road. As we've said before, there aren't many Longhorn farms around, so who they belonged to wasn't much of a mystery.
Our hearts sank as we tried to figure out how they could have gotten out and how in the world they got to the Highway.
The adrenaline also kicked in, and I quickly pulled up and jumped out of the truck. Jorie took over driving and controlling traffic. I started calling the cattle, and walking towards home. I knew they must have come through the bush and swamp at the back of our property as the crow flies to get where they were right now...but not knowing the route they took I figured it would be best to keep them on the road.
And so the cattle drive began.
Luckily my parents were also at the market with us, and so very quickly my dad was out of their car and able to take up a spot behind the cattle. I called and led from the front, while he pushed gently from the back. This is where our rotational grazing may have saved our butts.
Rotational grazing on our property means that I regularly go out and call the cattle to lead them to a new green pasture. So now, despite the beautiful green ditches on either side of the road, the herd was conditioned to follow me and trust that I had something better in store. Every now and then, when they got tired or one strayed, Dad was there behind to encourage them to keep moving.
The first milestone was to make it to our road and get off the Highway (which was now stopped in both directions). That meant walking them over 3 kilometers without any incident.
If nothing else, I think we provided a good show. I saw a few understanding faces in the stopped cars as I and the herd walked by. Quite a few phones were taking pictures or video. I even had a few people (I assume tourists) ask whether the cattle had gotten out or if this was a regular occurrence in this area. I guess that was a testament to the orderliness of our parade!
We made it to Opeongo. We rounded the corner. It got a little bit hairy after that, but thankfully a Good Samaritan decided to see it through to the end and jumped out to help push and keep them in line now that they were starting to split up more.
Another 2 kilometers and we were home. Despite a hiccup going in the wrong driveway across the road instead of our farm, we got them on the right side of the fence.
Twenty two texas longhorns, driven just over 5 kilometers. Despite all the distractions of a new place and traffic everywhere, they stayed focused and managed a pretty uneventful journey. It really couldn't have gone better if you had planned it.
We are so thankful that it went as well as it did. All told the cattle were only on the road about 5 minutes before we arrived and were home about an hour and a half after that. None were lost, no one got hurt, and other than a bit of a traffic delay and an impromptu western show no one else was impacted.
With livestock, things like this just happen sometimes. Add it to the list of life experiences. As one of our farmer friends nonchalantly says "in farming, there's always somethin".
Willie & Jorie