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Good Cows, Good Dog

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

To our  boundless joy, a local farmer has decided to take the hayfield near our mailbox down using the myriad teeth of ten Angus/Hereford cross cattle. I have betrayed my affection for cattle in several places on this blog. Briefly put, I fall in love with each and every one that I get to know. I am ignoring here the fact that I consumed about $30 worth of filet mignon at Christmas dinner, and am subject to almost uncontrollable steak and burger cravings, especially when consorting with vegetarians. 

Humans are rife with contrasts. And, as I prove three times weekly,

you don't have to be perfect to write a blog. I'm OK with loving cows and loving to eat them too. To be blunt about it, that's what Angus/Hereford crosses are for. Knowing that doesn't keep me from bawling like a baby when my favorites are loaded on the clattery trailer, bound to who knows where. I have a whole photo essay about that, but I haven't had time or the heart to write it up. It is a mistake to fall in love with beef cattle, to name them, to touch their wet pebbled noses and feed them apples. A mistake I gladly make over and over.

 When they first arrived, this set of ten cows was skittish and curious at the same time. Our appearance at the bus stop caused a slow stampede as they came to see who was about.

For a couple of giddy and delirious mornings, the cattle ran alongside us as we jogged the road. It was so exciting, being part of a stampede. But soon enough we became old hat and now if they are lying down they won't even get up off their briskets when we walk right up to them. Which, in itself, is nice, because they have become comfortable with this talkative woman and her little white-faced sidekick.

I don't think it's an accident that they tend to be clustered along the fenceline each morning when I run. Cows are subtle like that.

Just turned seven on December 12, Chet Baker is quite a different animal than he was at two. He can be contained, for the most part, not with leash and collar but with quiet words. I will confess that the first time he spotted these cattle in the field he lit out after them, bounding and barking. He thought when he first saw them in the distance that they were deer, and deer need to be escorted to the woods edge with a great show of bravado.

We hollered and shouted quite angrily, but the bit was in his teeth. Luckily, at that moment he stepped in a hole, flipped head over heels and landed with a flump, tail tucked and ears down, headed straight back to us. I am pretty sure he thinks I shot a sticky web from the heel of my hand and threw him, because he was most apologetic when he returned. 

Now, a month later, he loves to look at the cattle, but wouldn't dream of messing with them. He stands quietly while I talk to them and call them by the ridiculous names we've given them.

 This is Phantom (right), named for her half-mask. She has the coolest white around her eye; she looks like a mime cow.

Spotify is a bold and curious lady. She tempts The Bacon to cross the fine electric line that keeps her clan of ten from fraternizing with their tiny lookalike.

Good cows, good dog, animals in harmony. 

The red one is Stephanie. She's my favorite. We communicate with brainwaves.


I like 'em too, on grass and on fire.

Every so often, I toy with the idea of getting one or two heirloom Florida Cracker cattle, keeping them, and spoiling them.

I even went to the FC cattle auction a few years back.

So close...

Also, I really loved your pitcher plant post. It took me right back to my college drives on hwy 98 and bog after bog ablaze with pitchers.
The Okeefenokee has a few gazillion also.
I see the little green pitchers sometimes when I am swamping around, but it is a pretty rare event.

I love cows and pitcher plants too.

Once, while walking in the woods, I found a calf whose mother had been hauled off with the rest of the herd. It was weak but I got it home and bottled fed it until it could eat solid food. It was stunted from being starved so long, but still tasted good when we had it butchered.

And pitcher plants. I've visited them in bogs in the Kisatchee National Forest in Louisiana and love to visit Boiling Creek, on the Eglind AFB in Florida. We paddle past miles of tall pitcher plants but have found four different kinds - don't know any names. The tallest (and most numerous) is around two feet tall.

And Pitcher plants are no different than birds. They both recycle bugs. As we do with plants and animals. That's what makes it the circle of life, not the dead-end when all the carbon and nitrogen are locked up in biomass.

And hopefully your girl cows will live to breed. Maybe a bull will visit them this winter.

Contrasts indeed :) Our favorites are the Belted Galloways, or Panda Cows as my 6 year old calls them. There is a whole herd right in town.

I love this post. Even though we live in the suburbs, there are 3 small fields with cows (and 1 donkey) that I pass on my daily walk/run. I too have named one Spot and she often ambles over to the fence to let me scratch her nice brown head. I'm pretty sure that it was a cow story of yours that I heard on NPR ages ago that led me to your fine blog. Thanks for that!

Ok, I'm going to admit it: I was a vegetarian for many years because I can barely stomach (no pun intended) eating animals. When certain health problem resulted in severe anemia, I was pretty much ordered to eat meat again. So I do, but on a very limited basis. And it is still very hard for me to fix meat. Almost barfed when I had to dig the innards out of the Thanksgiving turkey. But this was a great post and I enjoyed reading it. And thanks to Pure Florida-that's how I came upon your blog.

You are the funniest lady ever!

Posted by Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Cowabunga!! 'nuther wonderful post... luv the initial shot of Chet & bovines also (can't tell if it's real or photoshopped to get that expression!?)

You've been looking at ivorybill hoaxes for too long, Cyberthrush. I've never Photoshopped anything in my life. What you'll see on this blog is the real deal--every nuance on Chet's face is his very own.

Ours are the neighboring Angus, love seeing their steamy breath and snowy backs moseying out to the east when I am on my way to school in the morning. Insulation at its best when the snow lays all day on their furry backs and never melts off.
First week in March we watch for the Mountain bluebirds and the first calves in the same pasture and know spring is almost here.

Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.


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