Cow Personalities


What meat eaters don’t want to acknowledge is that each cow in that herd chewing the cud so placidly has its own unique personality.  Don’t believe me? 

When I was young, we always had a herdette of cows for milk mainly, although my mother did skim off the cream and sell it to the dairy.  We mostly had Jersey breed cows as they are easy to handle and give huge amounts of milk.  OK we didn’t ask if we could have the milk.  No permission forms in triplicate any of that, but by a bit of subterfuge we managed to make the cows part with at least some of their milk for our own enjoyment.

Unlike the chickens which did not have names since we ate one every now and then, we never ate the cows and to make things simple we chose flower names for them : Daisy, Protea (our absolute favourite), Cosmos, Rosy, Daffodil and the notorious Petunia.

Petunia was the proverbial red-headed step child of the cow herd.  She was a lighter tan than the others with a wicked red rim around her eyes, and she hated children, just hated us.  She would try and gore us through the fence all the time giving us the evil eye with those red-rimmed eyes.

Our favorite tree was located in the middle of the field where the cows grazed, I’m not sure what kind it was, but it had wonderful thick branches for climbing right to the top.  The problem was how to reach the tree with Petunia watching our every move.  If could be done, and we did it.  The trick was to remove the chain from the gate without making a sound, slip through, replace the chain (every country kid knows to never leave the gate open), and run like hell to the tree before Petunia got wind of what we were up to.  As soon as she spotted us, she would charge, so we had only the tiniest window of opportunity.  The slightest hesitation or god forbid, a stumble and fall meant certain doom.

Fortunately none of us lost an eye or an arm, we became quite adept at flummoxing Petunia.  The only problem was that once you were in the tree you were stuck there.  If you needed a pee or were thirsty, it was your tough luck.  She would browse the delicious pods the tree dropped, keeping a beady eye on us, until she wandered far enough away to risk a return dash to the gate.  On the return, it was sometimes necessary for speed sake to climb over the gate, as she knew, just knew that sooner or later what went up had to come down and she would be ready.

As with all our cows, the time came for Petunia to be sold.  We were never sure what happened to them when the were sold, we imagined they were sold to some lovely farm, where they gamboled endlessly in fields of clover.  Most likely they were handed over for lobola or butchered bellowing in a ritual, but our innocence was preserved by our ignorance.  We were glad when Petunia left on the back of a bakkie looking a bit mournful and apologetic. 

And yet, from then on, something was lost.  There was no reason to run from the gate to the tree, the other cows couldn’t give a shit what we did.  Climbing the tree without the danger below lost its appeal in some strange way.  Poor Petunia, I hope she had a long, peaceful life and proved good and tasty in the end, albeit most probably quite tough with all that well-developed muscle tone





South African writer, crafter and all round animal lover
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