Beatrice’s udders were heavy and sore. Where was Mr. Talbert or Ms. Millie? She hadn’t seen either of them in days, and was beginning to get concerned. She decided to talk to her friends across the pasture. As she shuffled by the tank for a drink, she noticed the water was almost completely gone. She’d never seen anything like it in her life. She spotted her friends nearby, a small herd of cows standing in the shade of a scraggly tree.
“Well hello there, Bea!” mooed her friend Gertrude.
“Good day to you, Gertie,” she responded, giving a polite nod.
“Oh, moo it all,” lamented Agnes. She had never been the most stalwart of the bunch. “Beatrice, what do you make of this? My udders can’t take much more!”
“It’s a bad sign,” Beatrice agreed solemnly. “Either we have made Mr. Talbert and Ms. Millie frightfully angry with us, or they just don’t want our milk anymore. Though I suppose they could have just up and died on us. But then I would have thought someone would come looking for them. I haven’t seen a human in days.”
“Who will feed us? Who will water us?” asked Agnes, shaking her shaggy head.
“I think it’s up to us to take care of each other now,” suggested Beatrice, her calm and reasonable demeanor encouraging the others to nod in agreement. “But first we need to get out of this pasture before we perish from hunger and thirst.” The others mooed in agreement.
“But, Mr. Talbert always puts that loop of wire over the gate post!” Dottie reminded them. “We’ll never get past that level of security!”
“Preposterous,” snorted Beatrice, trotting over to the gate. She examined the rusty hinges, sniffed the wood and studied the wire loop. The sun was hanging low when she finally came up with an idea. “Gather around ladies!” she called. “Everyone listen to me! Now that the farmers have sworn off milk or cows, it is up to us to take action or perish. We need to escape, so follow my commands and we will all be free!”
At Beatrice’s direction, each cow leaned against the gate, and together their weight snapped the wire loop, and the gate swung wide open. They wasted no time, and immediately began shuffling through. They moved as a group, following their noses toward the lowland and the smell of water. The trail sloped gently between two low hills, the sun already dipping down below the rolling terrain.
The herd froze in their tracks, eyes wide in the failing light of dusk. On the hilltop looking down upon the trail, were the fearsome silhouettes of more than a dozen coyotes. Moonlight glinted off the eyes of the canines and several of them began to yip excitedly. The cows were scared, but Beatrice was not having it.
“Form a circle, bovines! If one of these coyotes tries to bite you, give them a mouthful of hoof!” That night, the cows had their first taste of freedom, and it was both terrifying and glorious.