Pets are great for kids. Livestock is even better.

Pets will let you hug them. They meld themselves to your life. They are happy to see you. They’ll tolerate boarding, if you cannot find someone to babysit or stuff them in a travel crate.

Livestock will not wait. They demand. They steal your time. Their messes are bigger.

If you hang around livestock long enough and are young enough to consider yourself impervious, you may take it upon yourself to “show them who’s boss.” This is something my cousin Greg and I determined to do one summer.

Several Heifers were munching around the field, along with their bull friends. I have no idea what why we thought they were there. Hanging out, I guess, with nothing better to do, seeing as that was our condition. We should’ve been put to work.

It became our plan to move the complacent herd. Cows chewing cud is not riveting and we required action. Again, we should’ve had chores. We usually did, but clearly there was too much time on our hands.

We climbed the fence and dropped to the irregular, tufted grass of the holding field, circling around the backs of the lazy ladies chewing, chewing, chewing. The plan, as it stood, was to get near the bulls, wave, leap around, yell, and get them to move. This happened. And then, an unforeseen force took hold: my grandpa.

Well over six feet, stern, dark, and forbidding, he ran down the gravel drive, across the road, and over to the fence we were about to vault. We were motivated by stampeding cattle, but intimidated by the future. It wasn’t good.

What we learned: you can’t chase a bull. If they’re in a field with cows, the havoc will put the cows off their milking schedule. And the bulls don’t like people who tamper with their potential mates. Makes them see red and want to kill you, not to put too fine a point on it. In a herd situation, in which you are not a member, you leave the status quo alone.