By Christy Rasmussen
Forks isn’t exactly the cow capital of the world, and we certainly aren’t known for our cow farms, but some of us are the proud owners of the mooing kind. I’ve had the pleasure of being around these smelly animals quite often as my childhood friend lived on a farm roughly populated by about 2 million cows (and even more cow pies). Once I even got the fun experience being kicked in the thigh by one. I was scrubbing him down for a cow show and let’s just say he didn’t appreciate having his own feces cleaned off his leg. The pain I felt was accompanied by a four-letter word that starts with “F”. Considering that I was in the sixth grade, one would think that I would have been in trouble, but I think that my friend’s mom knew that the hoof shaped bruise forming was enough punishment.
In case you aren’t familiar with cows, they aren’t exactly at genius level. They have about as much common sense and survival instincts as your average skipping stone … on a good day. Knowing this, it wasn’t exactly a surprise to come upon a few standing in the middle of the highway on my way to work.
They don’t posses enough intelligence to stay off of a main road where cars are going 55 (unless they own a radar detector, at which point their speed will be more like 70). It never crosses these poor cows’ minds that cars = hamburger. They also never stop to think that there is nothing for them on the highway.
Hay usually doesn’t grow on the highway and there are no water troughs to be found … again, usually.
Who knows what can be found around these parts. Regardless, the cows were hanging out in the middle of the road and had no intentions of getting out of my way. My first thought was to honk, but does honking ever get an animal out of the road? No. An animal (and especially the thoughtless cows) has to want to get off the road. There is no amount of honking, flashing lights or even a soft bump that will make an elk, deer, or cow as the case may be, get off the road.
Eventually I just drove in the other lane to get passed the four-legged prodigies. My boss never would have accepted the ole, “There were cows blocking the road and that’s why I’m late!” She wouldn’t have bought this because it isn’t common to see cows on the road. In other parts of the country, cows generally hang out in their fields. Their fields are oddly located OFF THE HIGHWAY. Here however, we have free-range privileges. Well, in Jefferson County they do anyway. Close enough. This means that on any average drive, you could come in contact with cows, pigs, horses or even llamas (yes, some people own these). If you do come across a llama, say goodbye to your clean car. They are smart enough to get off the highway, but too arrogant to care about wherever you need to be. They just spit on your car in response to your honking. They are kind of the Frenchmen of the farm animals.
What is the point of all of this? I’m just letting you know that in this area, we do not own the road. Besides bicyclers and hikers, we also have to share the road with the free-ranging animals. And don’t just assume that they cross by the “Free-Range Crossing” signs either. Most of the animals don’t read. This is especially true of the cows. The llamas do read, but they spit on the signs and say a few four-letter words in their French accents. They could care less if we need to get by. All I’m saying is watch for the farm animals when in Jefferson County. They are free to come and go as they please. Unfortunately they choose to come to the highway and never go.
I’m pretty sure that the people of Forks and surrounding areas are some of the most brave people alive. Out here we have cougars and bears and coyotes, oh my! If you ask some people (mainly my 5-year-old and her best friend), they will tell you that we also have wolves here. Mama elk are nothing to mess with either. Add Bigfoot into the equation and it should be considered a miracle that anyone leaves home …
ever. I try not to. I’m a very big scaredy cat. You may be assuming I am just referring to being scared of the dark. I’m talking daytime, too. When I’m picking berries with my dad out in the woods, I get scared if he gets out of sight. I’m not brave … at all. I’m even terrified of raccoons and large bunnies.
I have no reason to be scared. I have never had any close encounters with any wild animals. In fact I’ve never even seen a cougar in the wild and I only just recently saw my first bear. He was at least two football fields away and I only recognized what he was because of his walk. I’m not sure if that even counts as an encounter. Because I’ve never seen any of the scary animals around here, I can’t honestly even tell you if they truly exist. This has always shocked people, especially since I’ve been an outdoors woman for all of my life. I’ve been camping, hiking, hunting and berry picking on a regular basis since I was very little and yet, no encounters. Somehow, I’m still deathly afraid of running into any of these wild animals while out and about.
I’ve heard all the warnings of what to do in case of meeting a cougar or bear in the wild. Supposedly playing dead or making yourself seem really tall will be your best chance at survival. This is all good and dandy except for two things; no one tells you what to do in the event that you run into a large bunny and also I know me and I wouldn’t follow these directions in the heat of the moment. I would run in circles and scream my face off. My best chance at survival is the animals thinking I am insane and letting me go. It’s possible.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more scary around these parts, I was introduced to “Stick Indians.” Well, I wasn’t personally introduced to them. No one said, “Christy, these are the Stick Indians.
Stick Indians, this is the scaredy cat girl we were telling you about.” Either way, the Stick Indians are nothing to mess around with either. They apparently take people out into the woods and leave them there. If you know your way around or are good with directions, you might have a chance. I would panic … and cry … and then give up. Therefore, I’m doing my best to avoid the Stick Indians. If I hear whistling, I’m out. I don’t care how good of a berry patch I came across. The pies will have to wait. Maybe you think I am a fool for even believing in Stick Indians because they are considered folklore due to people never seeing them. To this I say one thing; I could call you foolish for believing in cougars … 28 years and counting without seeing one of these supposed real creatures. I’m still scared though … real or not.