December 6, 2011

The dairy herd is pastured way out at the eastern end of the field called Superjoy this week, grazing the rich oat and pea mix we planted in September. I was the evening milker yesterday, and as I made the trek out, the sun was beginning to set and the wind was picking up, driving a cold drizzle ahead of it. I was so glad to be out in it. It’s been way too long since I’ve milked the cows. There are fresh faces in the herd, barely recognizable as the babies of earlier autumns, grown up into first-time mamas. I said hello to Delia’s petite granddaughter, Juniper, inheritor of her big white spots. The group came through the gate and strung out in a twelve-cow line along the path to the barn. I walked behind, tapping lugubrious Trixie with my stick to keep her moving. The leaders bunched at the corner, and the herd lost its momentum. Now the parade was in disarray. Cows won’t be hurried but they can be cajoled. I moved back and forth, back and forth, first calling from the front (COME-on, come ON boss), then prodding from behind (whoosh! whoosh!), until the whole group was on the move again. I thought about all the people in the world walking a herd of cows home with me, as the sun made its setting arc across the globe. Whatever words a woman uses to move her herd in Ukraine, in Uzbekistan, in Uganda, her cows plod along just like ours do, and answer in a common language.

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  1. Pingback: Moving the Cows at Essex Farm | Essex on Lake Champlain