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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cows don't mind the rain

I love the rain. Maybe because I was born in April. I never wake up to a rainy day and feel down. To me, a rainy day means snuggling indoors with a good book and a nice cup of coffee or glass of wine. It’s a day to get indoor work done without feeling guilty that you aren’t outside in the sun, because there is no sun. I usually spend it writing, reading, watching videos and doing yoga. Sometimes closets get organized, floors get scrubbed and the basement gets tidied up. The day is always well spent.
When I lived in Asia I loved being outdoors in the rain. It was warm and it seemed to clear the pollution from the air momentarily. It smelled sweet. The doorman of the hotel next to my apartment didn’t like seeing me outside in the rain, however. He used to chase me down the street with an umbrella, shouting that the acid rain would make me lose all my hair.
Cattle don’t mind the rain. They know when it’s coming, and they prepare for it. I remember as a kid when we rode past a field of cattle, we would count how many were lying down. If more than half the cows were lying down, it was going to rain. It’s as reliable a forecast as any other.
Last weekend when it rained I looked outside and saw my cows, most of them lying down, in the far pasture. “Look at your cows, lying in the water,” the Farmer commented. Some of the calves were lying flat out, legs outstretched. Sound asleep. I’m sure after weeks of stifling hot summer days with flies in your eyes and bugs biting you, it feels absolutely fantastic to have that cool rain washing your hide, doesn’t it Betty? She’s just lying there, legs tucked underneath her, chewing her cud and watching a team of wild turkeys skirting the edge of the field. I’m glad they have had more comfortable days recently because they have been doing a lot of complaining about the heat.
When you have cattle, one of your primary battles is a war against muck. You could lose a boot – or a small animal – in that stuff.
The Farmer can’t get his tractor in the barn to clear it out, so he has decided to lock the cows out of their favourite sleeping area until it dries up. I’m not sure what the plan is then. Maybe it will be easier to drive on and remove at that point.
Anyway, the day the iron gates went up across the inner sanctum, you knew it for miles away. The cows hovered outside, mooing and bawling in complaint.
They sought shade along the fenceline, in the trees and in the shade of the big scrap metal wagon. They pushed and shoved each other out of the way to get the prime spots. Then they took up residence in the other half of the barn, which is considerably less cool because it has an east-west location as opposed to the nice cross-breeze in the north-south wing. They are happy the heat has subsided now.
I watch as the ten calves file past me, en route to the salt lick. I can almost touch them across the fence but they stay just out of my reach. The little white-faced male who needed help when he was born is not so white-faced now, having been under his muddy mother’s udder for the season. Wow, that last sentence was a tongue twister or something.
I watch as the bull calf sidles up to the stable where the Farmer has left the radio on for the turkeys. It keeps them calm. I peek into the pen and there they are, each one a twenty-pound white feathered marshmallow, tucked into the hay. The calf appears to have his ear cocked, listening to the music.
Soon we will be saying goodbye to the turkeys and some of our calves, if not all of them. The price of beef is pretty high right now and we normally sell the males, at least. It’s a good thing they aren’t all that friendly because I have a bad habit of getting attached.
We have one bare tree and another wearing red so it will soon be time to collect a wheelbarrow of windfall from the apple tree. I will present it to the cattle as a special treat this weekend.

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