Sorry, friends, I took a week break after last week’s post (on a totally unrelated post, Twitter and preschool are those two places where everyone is your friend). It really got under my skin and I’ve sat back and just let things go for a bit. But, I have to write on Tuesdays, and honestly, I’ve had this one percolating for a while! 🙂
We’ve had Brown Swiss heifers for a while now, but it looks like this will be the first year in many where we won’t have “four-leggeds” on our place. They’ve always been gentle, curious, and a little bit stubborn (I’ve only really lost my temper once with one of our animals, a beast of a heifer named Ashia, who knew she was bigger than I was and it showed). Brown Swiss are famous for all those traits and not having them with us will be sad.
However, over the past winter, I was introduced to beef cows. We had a herd of them on the land that surrounds our little piece of heaven and they were SO FUN to watch!
My wife thinks I’m a little weird, but watching them move together as a herd, finding shelter during the windy days together, huddling together when it was cold, gathering together and being hangry went they were hungry (yes, it’s a thing) was just an eye opening experience for me. Our herd was only four and Brown Swiss tend to be a little more independent than most bovines, so it was an education.
However, my awareness of just how much cows care about each other went up in mid-April. There have been some calves born in this field, which has been awesome. Calves are so dang adorable and beef calves just have a cuteness factor that makes them that much more so. However, a cow gave birth and the calf, for whatever reason, never got up. We first noticed it on our walk because the mom was standing near the calf, licking it and trying to get it to stand. We’d come up, and suddenly there were three or four “moms” around, each giving it a go, nudging the calf, trying to help it stand. We went inside, had supper, and when I returned, I saw this:
A quarter of the herd had come over and stood with the mother cow, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say they were grieving the loss her calf. It was an incredible sight for me because I never knew the depth at which cows could show emotions. Then, this article popped up on my feed one day: Study Finds that Cows Talk and Show Compassion Just Like Humans.
In the article:
Alexandra Green, a Ph.D. student at the university and the study’s lead author, said:
“Cows are gregarious, social animals. In one sense it isn’t surprising they assert their individual identity throughout their life.”
Between the anecdotal evidence given and the article read, beef cows are some pretty amazing animals. They care about each other, they “talk” to each other, and in their herd, they will protect each other.
There are so many things we learn daily about those who share our planet with us. For me, while they aren’t my Brown Swiss, they still are very unique, curious animals.