Saturday, March 24, 2012

My neighborhood

I like living in the country. It has it's disadvantages, the biggest one being that running to the corner market is a five mile drive. But it also has some big advantages. My nearest neighbor can't hear my 5.1 sound system booming while I'm watching a movie. The locked gate at the bottom of the hill keeps the proselytizers away.

One thing that is noticeably different is the signs posted on the telephone poles. Instead of the usual lost/found cat/dog we get similar reading signs for livestock. Goat and chickens are the norm but occasionally someone will misplace a larger animal such as a horse or cow. How do you misplace a cow?

Most people don't give bovines credit for how smart they are. Even ranchers make the mistake. They compare them to other mammals like dogs for instance. Dogs are pack animals and predators like man. So their normal behavior mimics ours and we recognize that as smart. Cows are grazers and herd animals. We put them in pastures where they hang out and eat and we protect them. So we see that as stupid. But is it?

If you go to a popular vacation resort you see people fenced in around a waterhole grazing on fattening foods. They can get out anytime they want and you know it. They don't. They choose to be there all fenced in taking an occasional dip in the water to cool off and drink iced drinks. Sound pretty stupid if you think about it.

So if you lead a herd animal to a pasture and let it hang out, isn't that paradise to it? Don't be surprised when it decides to hop the fence and wonder down the road. Of course the biggest argument by some livestock owners is that the cow has no idea of what is going to happen to it in the end. But neither do you.

photo: found_cow.jpg by Anson © 2012

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