A Short Cow Tale

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I lived many years on a big sheep ranch in the mid-western part of the US. An average of a thousand ewes each gave birth to one, two or three lambs each year. Did you know that female sheep have friends? They stay friendly with their daughters and sisters for their whole lives. And  did you know that in a herd of a thousand mama sheep baby lambs who fall asleep and wake up to find the herd some distance away can find their mothers? They can.

This morning we walked down early to the wheat fields. It was cool, and just lovely. To get where we were going we passed the house of a retired man and his wife, recently returned to Mexico. He has created a nice little homestead at his house that was empty for years.  He has a nice pickup,  a small corn field, a small corral, a cow and several dogs (more and more seem to show up). I noticed the cow right away last winter, and I noticed again after she had a baby. I wondered briefly where she had come from. I found out today, and nobody had to tell me.

A good-sized mixed herd of cattle was moving out to graze in the recently-shorn wheat field next to the tidy little homestead and as we walked I saw a large two-year old heifer separate itself from the herd , and stop to stare towards the cow, visible in her corral under a shade. The heifer mooed softly, and the cow stared back, and began to twitch her tail and walk back and forth in the corral like a caged animal. She bellowed and bellowed and the heifer bawled and bawled, then ran rapidly to the fence that divided them. It stayed there, as near to the cow as it could, and then, long after the herd had walked a good distance, she reluctantly turned and walked very slowly along the fence line, stopping every now and then to look back.

Who knew? Cows have families too.

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