It wasn't a life-flashing-before-my-eyes moment, but it was certainly an I-might-need-a-change-of-underwear event.
Today, we packed the family - two boys, hubby, and two dogs - into the car and headed out for the hour drive to my in laws for a fun-filled day catching yabbies.
Everything was going swimmingly. My seven year old made it to pop's house without spraying the car in vomit, my ten year old was excited with the responsibility of opening the farm gates, and we were lucky enough to score a good haul of yabbies at the very first dam.
The weather had even decided to play nice.
After a crappy week where we had to see one of our fur babies over the rainbow bridge, we were actually having a great time. "Were" being the operative word.
For a bit of background information, I enjoy being in the country. Spending time on the farm, dropping pots, watching the dogs run, and being immersed in silence is my jam. I also love the animals. Especially cows. Cows have always been big, dopey animals that I want to hug.
So today, we're dropping pots in dams and pulling out yabbies. The kids are yelling with delight, the dogs have energy to kill, and I'm kicking back after a hard week.
When we reach our third dam and I can see the forth within walking distance in the next paddock, I tell everyone I'm going to walk instead of getting in the dual cab. "I'll let the dogs have a bit of a run."
Great idea, right?
Then the kids decide to join me. They wanted to release some energy, too.
Even better, right?
So we watch hubby and the father in law drive to the next paddock and we start our leisurely stroll.
Then it happened. Those words that I will one day be laughing about...but I'm not quite there yet - "Mum, all those cows are coming toward us."
My seven year old had spotted a herd at the far end of the paddock. Far, far away. Maybe 600 meters. Maybe more.
"It's okay. They're too far to worry about."
We keep walking. Strolling. We have roughly 400 meters to reach the open gates to the next paddock and the other damn where my husband and father in law are.
"Mum... they're still coming."
Yep. They were. A large herd of black cows heading in our direction. "It's fine. They'd be curious about the car. They're probably looking for food. I bet they follow us into the next paddock."
We walk a little faster, because, ya know, big, dopey animals are in the same paddock and we really should steer clear. Also, my older dog is a blue heeler - a cattle dog - and I don't want her to chase after them.
"MUM. They're RUNNING!"
My heart jumps as I look to see if my sensitive seven year old is being over dramatic.
He's isn't. Those cows are definitely running.
"They'll go toward dad and the car. They think they're being fed."
I stop to watch my prophecy take place, knowing that the cows will cut off our path to the next paddock when they use the same gate we plan to walk through.
But the don't.
"Mum? They're coming for us."
Yes, yes they are.
This very large herd of cows are now trotting directly toward us and I'm starting to rethink how much I love these gorgeous creatures. But don't panic, right? I got this.
"Cows are scared of us. And the dogs. Don't worry, they'll stop."
My seven year old nestles close, trying to climb under my skin, and my usually lippy ten year old is dead silent.
"It's all good," I say as my stomach does Olympic back flips. "If they get any closer the dogs will bark and scare them off."
The cows keep trotting, now one hundred meters away and approaching fast. The pup starts to whimper. The blue heeler - A CATTLE DOG - is trembling and her tail is stuck so tight between her legs she's flossing her lady bits.
"Mum. I'm scared. What do we do?" My seven year old starts to hyperventilate, tears form in his eyes, his hands cling to my clothes. "MUM. ARE WE GOING TO DIE? OH GOD. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?"
Okay... I got this. I really do. I love cows. I really, really love cows. They won't hurt me. They'll stop running soon. My son will stop screaming soon. My husband will surely come save us. SOON.
I pick up the pup, clutching it to my chest, and hold my youngest at my side. "STOP panicking."
The cows are still approaching. A BIG FUCKING BLACK WALL OF MUSCLE AND BONE descending on me and my 50 kilo frame, my skinny ten year old, and my seven year old that would look like a midget standing beside a pygmy. "If they get any closer I'll wave my arms and scare them. They'll run away. They're more scared of us than we are of them," I lied. I lied so fucking hard.
The herd is now fifty metres away.
"I'M GOING TO DIE. I'M GOING TO DIE" - the seven year old.
"Mum? MUM? MUUUMMM?" - the ten year old.
*Dead silence* - the dogs.
"JUST CALM DOWN" - Me, NOT calming down.
The cows are now twenty metres away, slowing, but with no sign of stopping.
I step away from the kids, toward the herd, and wave my dog-free arm in the arm, stomping my foot and yelling, "Yah! Yah!"
Those fuckers just look at me like I'm a hay stack ripe for devouring.
What the hell do I do?
The seven year old is bawling, the ten year old is quiet for the first time in his life, and the cattle dog is searching the field, looking like she's about to bark, "Fuck you guys, I'm outta here."
My heart isn't merely in my throat. It's in my mouth, about to come out in a stream of vomit.
I try again. "YAH! YAH! YAH!"
Nothing. Not a GOD DAMN THING will stop these monsters.
"WE'RE GOING TO DIE. OH MY GOD, WE'RE GOING TO DIE. MUUUUUMMMM. WE'RE GOING TO DIE." My seven year old has settled into his first panic attack. He's inconsolable. He's delirious. "OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. MUUMMMM."
"They're just cows!" I yell over the screeching. "They're scared of us!"
WHY THE FUCK AREN'T THEY SCARED OF US?
I look over at the next paddock. The entire path between me and my husband is covered in cattle half coming right for us, the other half for the car. What the fuck do I do? I love cows. Surely, my love of cows will save me.
"YAHHHHHH! YAHHHH! YAHHHH!" I keep waving my arms, stopping the smart ones, only slowing the dumbest of the dumb who still approach. "YAHHHHHH!"
From the corner of my eye, I see the car in the next paddock start to move. But instead of being happy it's coming toward us, I'm freaking out because if a seasoned farmer like my father in law thinks we need to be rescued then we must be in big shit. Will the car get to us in time? Will it push more cows in our direction and have us trampled?
"WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE" - seven year old.
"MUM?" - ten year old.
"YAH! YAH! YAH!" - scarecrow flapping in the wind.
The cows keep walking, the closest now four or five metres away as the car barrels for us. I bundle the kids together, still waving my arms, still yelling over the top of my screaming kid.
The meat monsters stand in place as the vehicle approaches. Then finally, fucking finally, it's right beside us and my father in law is jumping from the cab, waving his arms as we lunge for the doors. The cattle dog scrambles in before us, no love for his owners what so ever, followed by my wailing seven year old, then the ten year old now bouncing with excitement because he survived his first near-death experience. And I'm in the rear, wondering if I'm totally through the woods because my chest is pounding like a heart attack could be on the cards.
My father in law gets in last and drives us away, remaining quiet while the car explodes into more hysteria about the killer cows.
And where is my loving husband? Still at the next dam, dropping yabbie pots and oblivious to the end of the world event I just went through.