Tuesday, November 29

Leading versus chasing

Today Karla and I went to town and stocked up on horse feed to last for a week or more. As we were loading our booty into the barn, a cow moseyed by and looked in. For several days, we have had eight or nine cows on the place due to a nearly-impossible-to-repair fence. There is a path that could be decades old that leads to part of the fence where the cows simply push through. Remember, these critters are covered in cowhide, and mere barbed wire is kind of like cobwebs to them.

They seem to be craving salt. We always keep a block of salt out for the horses, but our neighbor may be remiss in providing salt for his cows. We’ll have to put some on his place. Anyway, I thought it would be nice to lure the cows off our place and back to their own territory.

A few days ago we failed at chasing them down to the gate—they scattered. So remembering our late neighbor’s method of grabbing a handful of sweet hay and saying, “Come on, cows. Come on, cows,” and walking to where you want them to be, we lured them down to the gate, then onto the land where they’re supposed to be. All except for a young’n who took off along the fence on the wrong side away from his/her mom. Oh well, the young’n is covered with the same cowhide, and will probably survive his/her squeeze through the barbed wire to rejoin the family.

It’s been a long time since I was so close to bovines, and I was interested to see that they pick up their food by wrapping their tongues around it, almost like a giraffe, which can have a two-foot-long tongue to grab leaves from overhead tree branches. The hay I had in my hand was in a loose bunch, so it was easy for the cow I was leading to grab a mouthful by wrapping her really long tongue around part of it and pulling it in. They also do very strong breathing through the nose, sniffing and exhaling loudly. They’re sniffing the bait to see if it’s worthwhile. And the nose itself seems to be covered with sweat. Cows’ noses and mouths are very wet! I can see why they need so much water.

Horses use their prehensile upper lip, much like an elephant’s trunk, to gather their food. They have both upper and lower incisors, while cows have lowers only and a soft upper gum. Cows are very interesting creatures, and I could develop a hankering for them. If only they would drop their pies where I don’t walk!

Our dog Sioux loves the scent of a fresh cow pie, and often rubs her right shoulder in one to enhance her personal scent. She gets several baths a week from us in exchange, usually a cold shot from the garden hose. Is she really telling us that she loves cold showers?

Life has so many questions. I’d really like to know some more answers. Maybe I should have a long talk with a cow.

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