Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MOOving Cattle Tales

GOING DOWN A COUNTRY ROAD in Langley, BC, often leads to animal sightings. There are sheep, llama, goats, horses, dairy cows and beef cattle. Although the Holstein males suffer the ultimate fate of death, dairy cows tolerate the discomfort of heavy udders that make it difficult for them to stand.

With no breeze, shade tree nearby or cloud in the sky, the beautifully patterned cattle baked in the scorching sun. They were infested with flies that darted away as my camera approached. The animals looked at the gadget in my hand with deep curiosity.

Although their intelligence was evident, I might have misread one cow that showed particular interest in me. I spoke kindly to the cow as if it were a cat or a dog. The cow replied with a long moo that sounded like the loud wail of a bagpipe.

Tail wagging and head swaying ensued as the cattle communicated with one another and gathered closer to where I stood. Were they saying, “Get us out of here!” Or were they wondering if I brought them food or water or had come to open the gate? Maybe they sensed I enjoyed a glass of milk now and then. In the face of their discomfort, I drank in some unpleasant realities about the purpose of their existence.


  1. Cattle make great photo subjects!

    I hope the weather improves in BC! On the news tonight it looks like quite a bit of the province is ablaze. Stay safe!

  2. Thank you for your comment. Where I am in SW BC it is definitely dry but cooling with new clouds promising showers this coming weekend. In some interior and more northern areas of BC it is hotter and winds more threatening amid existing fires. Lightening strike potential adds to the danger for both man and beast. The weather is changing though and hopeful there will soon be relief for all!

  3. Penelope, this post brought back a memory. I grew up in a village surrounded by dairy farms, but moved to Montreal to attend university. I used to go home on the weekends, and having taken up jogging, found myself running along country roads, past many of the farms I had barely noticed as a child. One day, an entire herd of cows jogged along with me until they came to the end of their fenced lot. It was early morning, so perhaps they had just been milked. I stopped and looked into their eyes, and have never forgotten the moment. I am vegetarian, but still drink milk (organic when possible) as I am addicted to lattes, and yogurt is a staple as well. I wrote once to Olympic Dairy Company, wanting to know how their cows are treated, and they said they are put outside, weather permitting. Soy lattes just don't do it for me, and at my age, calcium intake is really important, but more and more, I'm having second thoughts about consuming dairy.

  4. Carol, I think compassionate people such as yourself are naturally conflicted. I admire your vegetarianism. It is a diet I adhered to for many years … until I discovered I wasn’t doing it properly and my body lacked nutrients. I also like milk but try to find substitutes. And oddly enough, I was a little girl when my family moved from Montreal to BC where I think I saw my first cow ... and those soulful eyes!


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