"You're not a really useful engine!
You've got a cowcatcher and you have never caught a single cow!"
— Diesel to Toby
Cowcatcher! is a magazine story,
Diesel is in a particularly bad mood as Toby trundles past.
Diesel remarks that Toby is not a really useful engine as he has a cowcatcher and has never even caught a cow.
Toby is surprised by Diesel's nasty outburst; he has never thought about it before. In the past, Toby has used his cowcatcher to push mud and leaves off the line, but he has never caught a cow.
Toby decides to puff around the island looking for cows to catch.
His driver is not happy; they are not picking up any passengers and the Fat Controller will be cross.
Toby does not care.
He wants to prove that he can be really useful.
Presently, Toby passes McColl Farm.
It is milking time and the cows are crossing the railway lines to get to the milking parlour on the other side. Instead of waiting at the red signal for the cows to cross, Toby barges forwards and starts to shove the cows up the line.
The cows begin to panic and scatter in all directions.
Farmer McColl is livid and promises to tell the Fat Controller about it.
Toby puffs away, feeling upset.
He still wants to show that he can be a really useful engine so he takes the loop line back to the farm.
When they approach the farm again, several cows are munching grass on the side of the tracks.
Toby's driver and fireman jump down to start herding the cows.
This time, Toby gently nudges the cows back up the line to the crossing.
The cows knew where to go and were soon heading to the milking parlour.
Farmer McColl is standing near the gate with Sir Topham Hatt, shouting.
When he spots the cows heading towards the parlour, he follows them in to make sure they are milked.
The Fat Controller demands an explanation from Toby.
The Fat Controller and Toby's crew laugh when they hear it.
The Fat Controller explains that "cowcatcher" is a very old word and does not mean the same anymore.
Toby is relieved; he can be a really useful engine without catching a single cow.