After the disappointment of Candy the Dexter giving me only a few litres of milk a day, the 5-7L that Dolores was giving up was causing me great pleasure. Feta had been made, yoghurt and brie planned and the cheese press plans back in full effect. Not all was rosy though. Laf was losing weight, very, very quickly. The calf was taking so much she was burning more energy than she could produce. Simply, she wasn't getting enough food. I upped her hay, but the fenced paddocks just didn't have enough. There was no choice but to let her out into my untended paddock and by extension the neighbours as well. Not that they mind but there is a lot of space for a cow to wander, and all hilly.
For a week things were going fine, the girls would wander down in the afternoon and be put away for the night and Laf quickly gained back the weight she had lost and was no longer looking like Skeletor's pet cow. On Wednesday night I went straight to training from work and didn't get home till nine. They hadn't wandered down the hill and the next morning I was gone before there was enough light to call them in. The next afternoon my mum and dad were here so when they didn't show up I wasn't that fazed, they were probably down the hill and I could go and get them on Friday.
On Friday some old friends from the inner city living days dropped in. They had come down my way to buy a tractor, naturally. They were keen to see a bit more of Lantanaland so we went cow searching. Every other time they have wondered off they stay down on a great bit of grass near Jamie's yards, just behind my back fence. Off we trekked, but at the end, no cows. I was a little more worried, but again was thinking that they were just up the next hill near Jamie's sheds. We didn't have time to go further so I left it for Saturday.
Saturday was double Di party day. It was my neighbours 50th and they were having a street party as well as my mother in laws birthday as well, which we celebrating at night. In between kid wrangling, beers, cake making and beers, I armed myself with the machete and some bread to coax the girls back and ran off down the hill. I went through the back gate and off up the other hill, calling for the girls, plenty of cows but none with big white patches and lots of milk. I even followed the cow path that goes along the right hand side of valley home, in case they were up on the grass there. Nada, no cows. That meant they'd gone....over the other side of the mountain. I'd never gone that way before and had no idea what I'd find. Lantana was a pretty safe bet. The plan was to gear up after breakfast and go looking.
At Di's party I'd mentioned to Cliff, the old guy who had owned our whole street originally that I'd lost the cows. Just as I was getting ready to go, protected for ten foot high lantana, he came over to tell me that they were at the back fence of a farm down the other side and he'd give us a lift down so we could walk them back. The little buggers followed me and my bread quite readily back up the steep climb to Cliffs, then round the hill to Lantanaland. I locked Dolores up for a quick afternoon milk and fed them both lots, just to remind them that they didn't need to walk quite as far for a feed next time.