About this blog...

Here you will find information, musings, and pictures about life, the natural world and writing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where I think this is going... Cows??

Here's your chance, folks, to set a new blogger straight. I envision this as an experiment in tying together the discoveries, delights, and dismay of publishing a new mystery (Night Kill), my environmental angst, and loosely related thoughts, events, and opinions. Where it gets trivial, I'll try for entertaining. Where it gets weighty, I'll still try for entertaining. Your part is to let me know when it works for you and when it doesn't. Arguing, supplementing, and cheering are also welcomed.


Last weekend, we (husband and myself) had the pleasure of visiting a friend's land, a new aquisition near Molalla, Oregon. We admired rolling hills of oak and fir, cattle up to their bellies in grass, a redtail hawk and turkey vultures circling overhead. During a walk through the property, I remembered a bit in a book by Temple Grandin, I think it was Animals in Translation, where she says that, if you lie down in a field, the cows will come up to you and maybe even lick your face. Of course we couldn't resist, so the three of us lay down in tall grass under trees, a few dozen yards from the cows (no bulls!).

My ass gradually got sodden, but otherwise it was about as bucolic as you can get, in the warm late afternoon. And sure enough, two of the cows succumbed to curiousity. They do not slip silently along (neither do deer, actually). They crashed on over and stood a few yards off, blowing sharp puffs through their big shiny noses. 514, per her ear tag, came to within five feet of me. I could hear her belly grumbling. She was a handsome lady, a black Angus with a shiny coat and a mellow eye.

I had two thoughts: one, that I wasn't up for face washing on our first date, and two, that this would be a highly inappropriate time for the cell phone in my pocket to ring. Which it immediately did. 514 and her buddy, 712, did not stampede and trample us. They barely flinched (modern cows!) and seemed to be wondering why it was taking me so long to answer the wretched thing. (I had a nice chat with our son in Boston.)

We roused after that and moved on, pleased with our experiment, and 712 and 514 resumed converting grass to beef.

Our management of cows often causes significant environmental damage as they trample creek banks, eat vegetation down to the ground, and generate massive amounts of manure in stockyards. Wildlife and native plants lose out big time in many cases. I didn't brood on that during my encounter with 514. She was in lush grass that can withstand grazing and our friend will fence his creek soon to create a riparian corridor. She was a fine beast on a beautiful afternoon and we both were simply curious and inclined to be well disposed toward one another.

1 comment:

nosleepingdog said...

And when your son called from Boston, you would have been able to say, "Yes, well, we're lying in a cow pasture getting wet butts and waiting to see if cows will lick our faces!" The rare chance for a unique location communication over a cell phone.

I enjoyed your description and sensibility.

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