When Life Imitates Cow

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

I was driving along Highway 169 one afternoon and somewhere north of the burgeoning metropolis of Udney there was a large herd of cows on the side of a hill. They were doing what cows usually do to pass the time, stare off into space, maybe take a mouthful of grass now and then, lick a salt block, poop, chew a bit of cud. It’s kind of a peaceful life I suppose, as long as Bossy is producing. Once the milk dries up it’s off to the…  well we won’t talk about that.

But the more I thought about it, I began to wonder if cows think while they are standing there and if they do, what about? Can cows talk to each other? And if they can they certainly can’t moo in English. Can you imagine a Holstein trying to speak to a Canadian cow or even worse an Ayrshire? Even if she did it would be with a German accent, and then there are the Guernsey’s that speak English but you know how Brits are with their accents, probably couldn’t understand the herd in the next field, especially if they were Charolais mooing away in their snooty Francais. But they must speak to be able to communicate in some way; otherwise the days would be so long.

I’m sure they have some serious thoughts they want to discuss around the haystack about the g-d weather or bitch about when a there is a bull sniffing around. Do cows judge bulls romantically with some sort of rating system? “Stay away from Bruno; he’s definitely a wham bam, thank you ma’am, kind of guy. He never sticks around until morning or tells you how pretty you look. Bulls are all alike, promise you the world then some pretty little heifer makes goo-goo eyes at him and he’s off.”

Speaking of cattle and relationships, what ever happened to Elsie the Cow? Elsie was on the staff of the Borden Dairy people for decades? I think I met her at the Exhibition way back in ’47, ’48. I don’t think Elmer was there. He was her husband, although it may have been a common-law arrangement. For years we saw her all over the place but lately not so much. In fact I don’t think I have seen her for years. If I’m not mistaken Elmer’s hind quarters were on special at the old Dominion Store on Mississaga Street when I worked there as a kid. Prime rib of Elmer was close to 79 cents a pound if you can imagine. I hope the price of beef never gets that high again.

I guess Elsie would be pretty old by now. Borden’s probably put the old dear out to pasture, the same place some of our politicians belong.

I don’t suppose you have ever thought about the similarity between herds of cattle and political parties. They are a lot alike when you think about it. Most party members just sit around thinking about not much really, until something stirs them up and they bellow and fart around accomplishing nothing just like they have been doing for centuries. A new party leader for the party in power will get them up in arms. Oh they rant and rave about how inept he or she is but they can’t do much about it.

With cows it is much the same, they just get used to a sweet little dairy maid or a dairy man with a bit of class, who warms his hands and whispers nice things in their ears before gently massaging their… I know what they are but John would only edit them out anyway. Then Farmer Brown shows up one morning with a power milking machine and all the romance goes out of it. Everything becomes so mechanical, a damned shame really but what can the herd do about it? Nothing! 

In fact, they are worse off than the political herds. The cattle can’t toss the farmer out of office every four or five years even if they would like to. All they can do is stand hoof-deep in cow manure. Now that I think about it we may all be in the same mess. There’s an election coming up; it is going to get deeper.

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