While the band took a break, this announcement was made: "The hayride will be leaving in five minutes. In addition to the ride, there will be cow feeding at the farm."
Consider the image you now have of what this will be like. I imagined riding through corn and soybean fields for a while, pulled by a chugging tractor. At some point, we'd be standing at a fence, giving small bunches of hay to a couple of bored and listless cows, who would stare vacantly as they chewed the hay. Then they would wander off to attend to their normal cow business, such as eating more grass or contributing to the number of cow patties littering the field.
At the time of the announcement I was just wandering around, taking in the festivities, so I thought, "why not go on the hayride?" and jumped on the wagon that had been hitched to a big green John Deere tractor. I sat in the back on one of the bales of hay that had been placed on the wagon to serve as seats, the farm's owner fired up the tractor's engine, and off we went.
The first part of the hayride went according to how I thought it would. We bumped and jostled along the roads and paths. The adults started singing hokey songs, and the teenagers looked at the singers like they had just grown pig noses and turned purple. The sun was warm and bright, the temperature was mid-seventies, and a soft breeze was blowing. It was a pleasant way to travel through the countryside.
And then we got to the cow field.
The owner had given us each a bag of food for the cows. The food was -- and I am not making this up -- hamburger buns. We quickly identified the irony in this, and had a hearty chuckle at the thought of the "bun-in-cow, then cow-in-bun" situation that was obviously the way this would eventually end.
As we approached the field with the cows, we could see them munching calmly on grass in the middle of the field. Instead of standing on the outside of the field and feeding the cows through the fence, we went through the gate so we -- humans on the wagon clutching our bags of hamburger buns, and the cows in the field -- were all sharing the same space. The cows, knowing more about this drill then we did, began steadily moving towards the wagon, visions of hamburger buns dancing in their huge bovine heads.
In seconds, we were surrounded. The pushed, they shoved, they begged, and they grabbed the buns as fast as we could toss them. They licked our hands with huge wet tongues and nuzzled our legs with soft noses. They ate buns with abandon and came back for more. They even tried to grab the plastic bags that the buns were in, but we managed to keep the bags away from the cows.
When we didn't give them the buns fast enough, they began an assault on the hay on the wagon -- otherwise known as our seats -- by pulling large hunks of it from the bales and chewing madly. I made the tactical error of standing up, and one cow quickly yanked the entire bale I had just been sitting on and dropped it to the ground, whereupon several cows descended on it. It was only due to the quick action of the owner that my hay-seat was rescued and returned to the wagon so I did not have to sit on the hard wood floor on the trip back.
We finally got all of the buns in the cows and the humans back on the wagon, and started the trip back. After we passed back through the gate, I looked behind and saw that all the cows had trailed behind the wagon until they were stopped by the fence, and were gazing longingly in our direction as their new friends disappeared down the road.