October 6, 2009

Some people are just cow people.  And one of the best things about this cow project is hanging out with cow people.  I spent a couple of hours on the phone with farmers yesterday.  Several of them either had or were in the process of selling out.  Which is very sad on several different levels, many political.  But one of them, an old man named Major, never sold out.  When he quit or retired from the dairy business he kept some cattle.  He told me he milked his first cow when he was four.  He said, "I just love cows, dairy cows not beef cows so much.  I love them.  I just do.  I love cows."  He keeps his Jerseys around to show and to milk for his own family.  He sounded about a hundred and four years young.  I wanted to crawl through the phone line and spend the day at his elbow watching his cows watching the world.

I've always felt cows have the right combination of flight and might to be really honest.   They are generally calm about it, but they always tell the truth.  It seems so obvious to me, from the edge of the field.  And maybe that is why they scare me so bad, the way some adults fear children.   What might a cow teach me about my short comings?  Plenty I'm sure.  But I enjoy the people (oh this is exactly the kind of thing which, after being written, will bite me hard on the tail bone) who are not afraid of that honesty.  Also, the calm is catching.  I can use all the calm I can attract.

Last night I sat in the shavings in a darkening stall underneath a circling wary two hundred pound calf.  I tried to be as still as I could.  I tried to keep my heart in the right place.  And, most importantly, I kept my hands cupped full of sweet feed.  It took a long time.  But eventually the baby snuffled my neck, licked my forehead, and ate from my hands.

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