Cow thoughts – Fence Post

If, by some odd happening, I ever get a chance to talk to a cow about her behavior, I would like to find out why cows do certain things. If you see cattle on a fairly regular basis, you can make your own list of questions … or maybe you can answer mine.

I get such a kick out of the way cows have the need to walk single file to get a drink, and they frequently use the same walkway. That’s where we get the expression of a cow path. We hear about the dominant cow in a herd, the lead cow, and that is understood. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me to wonder how the conversation goes. “Mabel, I’m thirsty. Would you please lead us over to the watering hole?”

I mean, can’t cows just go it alone (I say, tongue in cheek.)

Likely some readers, especially men, will have a human correlation to this activity. That is the restroom syndrome afflicting most women. You have a group of people seated together in a restaurant. One female decides she needs to “go powder her nose” and she mentions it aloud. Whoosh! There is suddenly a mass exodus to the restroom. No one knows why. Men don’t do that as a common occurrence. Because I’m a gal I can make the comparison. A man would be called sexist or worse if he mentioned it. Humor me here.

“Pullquote.”

Back to the subject of cows. Did you know that cows babysit for each other? It’s true. If you watch, you’ll see a whole passel of little calves — not yet eating hay — laying or playing in a group, with one or two cows attending them while the balance of the mamma cows stroll off to munch their hay. The babysitters rotate allowing all of the cows to eat in peace. Hmmm, sound familiar?

Perhaps the most poignant behavior is mourning over a deceased fellow cow. I remember when I was young, seeing a cow that had died of natural causes in a corral and noting how the cows stood closely by and lowed, as if to say good bye. It is almost heartbreaking too when a calf dies and the mamma cow calls for the calf for two or three days afterward. Naturally her udder becomes engorged and she is miserable, but far and above it her mothering instinct. She knows something is not right and she’s frustrated when her calf doesn’t come when she calls, as any mother — animal or human — would be.

Much is being written about handling cows, gently and correctly, yet simply observing and thinking can be a great form of education. What have you learned from cows or would you like to learn about cows?

Peggy would like to hear from former city residents who have relocated to the country about their joys and tribulations of the move and rural living. Reach her through thankafarmer4food@yahoo.com. ❖

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