You don't have to understand the world. You just have to find your own way around in it. - Albert Einstein

Sunday, 5 January 2014

the Neighbours at My New Home are a Bunch of Cows

Most of the neighbours at my new home are the non-human variety, which is just lovely. A lot of them are cows.

The land we live on sits behind the road from another block of land, with a right-of-access road running through it to get to our home. This land is owned by a cow farmer, so we have to pass through a cow paddock to get in and out. I just love it. Unusually, there seem to be a lot of different breeds of cattle all together in one paddock. I wonder if the farmer just really likes cows and wanted to collect lots of different kinds, like I do with vintage crockery and suchlike. I'm not sure when the official cattle breeding season is meant to be but these cows seem to be producing young regularly. Every now and then there will be a new tiny baby cow in the paddock, following its mother and finding its feet. There's always a mixture of the young ones that stick by their mothers, and the older, more sedate and mellow mothers, and some feisty half-grown adolescents that we call the 'teenage cows.' These ones are confident and lively and playful and often seem to want to play with us. Sometimes they try to organise little races with our car. I think the very cutest thing about cows is the way their long ears flap as they are running. Quite often there will be a band of cows resting lesuirely right in the driveway, and they just don't seem to understand what a car is or how they are supposed to respond to it. I have to stick my head out the window and yell at them. Then they realise that we are humans and that it's time to get out of the way. This always has the effect of making us laugh all the way to the gate. Usually I try to do my best, deep-toned impersonation of an Aussie farmer when I'm urging them to get out of the way. Then as we pass them by, I say nicely, "Thank you very much ladies, sorry for disturbing you."

Yesterday was a stupidly hot day. It's completely unbearable. So rather than go out and spend the day somewhere with air conditioning, we set up a little day camp down at the creek which separates the cow paddock from the residential block. This was absolutely an excellent idea. I just spent the day sitting in the creek on and off, and sipping cold drinks in between, thanks to my impromptu version of a Coolgardie safe. I took a big plastic tub and sat it in the shallow water at the edge of the creek. We filled it with ice and cold drinks, and then I covered it with a wet sarong, with the edges of the sarong sitting in the water. It worked a treat. All the ice melted quite early on, but the temperature of the water and the drinks stayed icy all the way til the end of the day. You can see it here at the edge of the creek. The creek with a cow in it. Of course. The cows were really hot too, they were all hugging the shady edges of the paddock.

And of course at some point they got a bit curious and had to come and check us out. Apparently a committee of teenage cows was selected to approach us as an initial reconnaisance. They came slowly towards us.


...and closer. This one was the most brazen and confident of the lot. She got right up close and personal and sniffed all over my head. I think she was trying to work out what kind of a cow I was.

At this point I suddenly realised that I was sitting surrounded by at least a half dozen animals that were all bigger than me, and one of them was nuzzling me like a baby. I realised that a lot of people would be terrified to be in this situation. It's amazing how many people are scared of cows. I understand it sometimes, like this moment right here. They are massive and powerful. I am relying on generations and centuries of breeding that has taught a cow to be afraid of humans. I know that they are more scared of me than I am of them, so I don't find cows intimidating.

Not like one hapless courier who came up here to deliver a package one day. Funny, they ask if you have a dog in the yard, they never ask about cows. This poor bloke was so scared. I tried to reassure him but I don't think he really believed me. One cheeky little teenage cow in particular was really hassling the poor bloke, trying to tease him. The next day, when we were passing through the paddock, I noticed that particular cow and pointed it out to Mr CJ, saying, "That was the cheeky little bugger that was hassling the poor courier yesterday." And, just as I was pointing and saying this, I swear to god, this cow winked at me.

I often think about how in this part of the world, the really scary creatures are little ones, the deadly snakes and spiders and so on that can crawl right into your boots, or into bed with you. I must admit, the creatures that do freak me out are the ticks. And they are really so tiny you can sometimes hardly see them.

One cow seemed much more interested in the back of the chair than in the person sitting in it.

The initial sniff must have pleased Miss, because she thought she'd quite like to play games with this interesting creature, and began making little run-ups and head-butting into the back of the chair, just enough to give Mr CJ a nudge each time. This was absolutely hilarious until a big, solid mama cow with a pair of very impressive twenty-inch horns thought that looked like a fun game and she'd like to play too. At that point I had to stand up and shoo them away.

One person I know who really loves cows is my mum. I keep thinking how when she comes to visit one day, she will be able to just sit in the paddock all day and watch the cows and be so happy. You'd think it would get boring, but they manage to move around and keep doing cute things and pulling cute faces and keep it interesting. I really love what my mum says to people who want to argue the point of vegetarianism. She says, in the cutsie-poo voiced reserved for babies, kittens and cartoon characters, "I love cows so much I could just eat them."

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