Close Encounters of the Herd Kind

It was an early morning in the first half of October last fall when I was out feeding chickens and saw something baffling. The sun was just above the trees to the east, and the rays were cascading westward across our pastures in the cold, crisp morning air.

I stopped dead in my tracks holding two 5-gallon buckets of feed.

About a half mile west of where I was standing, clear as day, was a UFO.

It was nearly just like they depicted in all of the old 1950s movies and artwork. A large, flatted oval, silverish in color, and resting atop a grassy knoll in the pasture where our cattle herd was currently grazing.

I was truly dumbfounded.

Then reality came crashing back to me and I decided that although the object appeared to be an archetypal unidentified flying object, there was surely a more rational explanation. My mind shifted quickly from aliens to human intruders. Was is an Airstream trailer? An aluminum livestock trailer? Was someone out there rustling up my cattle?!?

I hopped in our beat-up UTV and floored the gas pedal, heading westward as fast as the rough terrain would allow.

As the distance shortened from a half mile to 2000 feet, then 1500 feet, I could tell the large object was clearly not a trailer. There were no wheels, there was no truck attached. It was simply a large oval perched on the hill, now looking more translucent than silver. Once I was an eighth of a mile away I finally realized what it was.

It was a cold morning, and the sun was shining nearly horizontal across the pasture from low in the eastern sky.

What looked like a 20 foot wide, 6 foot tall flying saucer from a distance, was now clearly identifiable for what it really was: an arching spray of water from the water pipe that supply our cattle stock tanks. Frost came late this past fall, and on that particularly paranormal morning it had finally dropped into the low twenties, resulting in a burst pipe.

Because of the angle of the sun, and the force of 60 psi water spraying from a fractured ball valve, the water sprayed in a perfect arch, reaching 20 feet, and dissipating a fine mist of water downward, making the inner area of the spray pattern appear a translucent silver.

I was relieved that there weren’t outlaws rustling up cattle, and relieved that I wasn’t about to be beamed up into a martian spaceship. But also a little disappointed in myself for not having foreseen the potential for pipes to freeze.

The penance for this oversight? Having to fix the pipe out in the cold, wet grass as a herd of curious cows watched in bemusement.

Thanks for reading,

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