Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 17

About a cow:

It was just about a year ago that we found her.  Her legs sticking almost straight into the air.  Her belly a bit bloated looking she lay alongside our driveway, not even a hundred yards from our home.  She wasn't there the night before.  We saw a bit of skid marks that indicated the direction she slid down the hill.  The queen, Ms. Buttermilk, was dead.

I didn't post about it then, because it seemed a bit too dreary.  Since then, and especially because of the events that followed, I've been waiting for the right time.  The anniversary of her death seemed appropriate.

Here she was back in the day.

I have a new project now.  Take a photo of every cow.  Try to make them look good.  I went through hundreds, maybe even a thousand photos before I just gave up and put up this shot of Ms. B.  She was a homely cow.  I had kind of forgotten.  She was more golden colored than this photo reveals and she had a white face and a big splash of white on her belly and up one side.  For some reason it reminded me of a big, thick splash of buttermilk.  Hence her name.

 She was old when we took over the  herd and we were warned sternly by Jerry that she would protect her calf, so under no circumstances should we work with her calf unless Ms. B. was in another pen. She had pinned down a few people in her day.  She was queen of the main house herd  and she kept all the other herds out of her domain.  She only would tolerate a bull when she was cycling or one of her 'ladies in waiting' were cycling.  After the feat was accomplished, they were kicked out.  I kid not.  I will say this herd never lost a calf until this year when she was gone.  She took her job as herd leader very seriously. 

We have no idea how old she actually was when she died.  Old.  Very old. she was always fat and raised up a nice big calf.   Until her last one.  It wasn't growing well and looked a lot like a lamb.  We called her lambkin and she was our first sign that it was time to put the veritable old cow,  Ms. Buttermilk, on our cull list.  Perhaps she got wind of it and died just to spite us.  Or maybe her heart couldn't take the news.  Either way I'm glad she died on the place.  It seemed right.  She died at home.

Eric buried her up the hill in a flat spot.  For weeks we would find her calf sleeping on top of it and her herd gathered near.  They really did not know what to do without her.  When something would startle them they would run hither and yon and all end up back on her grave.  For real.  It was unnerving. A bit spooky.  Cows are very social creatures and we think they have a strong matriarchal structure and strong family ties. 

Eventually,  Lakia took over.  Another old cow that has been around for a really long time.  She too is a bit homely and coming to the end of her term.

Times have changed under Lakia's rule.  The bulls are allowed to hang out with them for as long as they like and our front herd is allowed on the main house herd's grazing area.  Good changes.  But we still miss the old iron lady, Ms. Buttermilk.  Long did she reign.   And, if a measure of one's life might be the effect you have on another's, even of a different species,  then she had a good life... 


  1. Long live Mrs. Buttermilk. It's amazing how animals' social structure can be so strong.



We love to hear what you have to say. Keep your comments coming! Thanks.