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If you drive on country roads in Texas you see signs announcing that a cattle guard is coming up. A cattle guard is an area of the road that has been dug out and replaced by a series of pipes across the road. When your truck crosses a cattle guard, the wheels rumble.

Cattle guards can contain livestock that are roaming free because hoofed animals have trouble walking over the pipes. Areas inside cattle guards are not fenced to keep the animals away from the road. You can imagine this doesn’t happen on busy interstates, where the cattle and traffic might disrupt one another, but it happens frequently in our small rural town. When you cross a cattle guard, you slow down because a cow in the middle of the road could spell disaster for you and the cow.

You might think a cow would defer to the heft and steel and speed of a vehicle. Nope. Cows lumber slowly along, taking their sweet time. If one is lying down on the road, prepare to come to a stop or to slowly drive around her. She is not moving just because you have somewhere to go.

On a small road not far from the Bossy Spa, we rumbled over a cattle guard and came upon this girl, standing in the shade of an oak right beside the road. You can see she could just step out on to the road if she chose.

She has a pretty nice spot. On this sunny day she has found a patch of shade. The big tree makes her safer, since cars will avoid the tree, even if they don’t see her. There are some low-hanging branches just the right height for her to get a good back scratching.

Survival for cow on open range depends on correctly figuring out when to move and when to stay put, and that is a challenge for us too. If a black cow misjudges and sleeps on the road at night, she might get hit by a vehicle. If she perpetually accommodates passers by, she loses her good spot under the tree and ends up running around in response to everyone else’s priorities.

We caregiving types run around a lot. We spend time wiping and stirring and washing and scribbling and calling. Some of these things are vital. If we don’t take care of them, we may get run over. Others, though, made it to our to-do list, but may really be someone else’s priority. Today, don’t budge for those tasks. Whoever’s priority that is likes his truck too much to run you over. Stay put. Trust me, he’ll slow down and drive around you.

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