Monday, May 14, 2012
It's been easy to take the cows for granted. Their field is just a stone's throw away and it seems as if they have always been there, eating grass. Sometimes they are up in the woods or in another nearby pasture; we see them go to the pond for a drink or, in the winter, following the tractor which doles out hay. Calves appear, with bright white faces, two or three born each year - but the herd stays roughly the same size, about twelve brown cows. They mostly walk around slowly and eat grass.
When we heard that Barbara, the owner of the fields and the cows, was asking neighbors if they wanted a cow (or maybe some meat), it was a surprise. She was saying that she and her husband, Bill, were getting too old to care for them.
Why, maybe we should buy the cows. Well, we would need the field, too. What do we know about cattle? Crazy idea.
The next morning, Dave saw some cows corralled and some men talking nearby and we thought it might be over that quickly, the cows sold and butchered, just like that. What about the land? Would they sell the land? Would it be subdivided into ranchettes? WOULD EVERYTHING CHANGE?
But they were all still there the next morning, chewing away and, so far, nothing has changed at all.
I called Barbara, and she said yes, she was getting too old, she is 77 and Bill is 84 and did I know that she broke her hip in March? It was March 21 and more about the hip and the vitamins she takes and they heat with wood and there is a lot of wind up there on the hill and, when I could get her to talk about the cows, she said when she married Bill in 1955, his mother had some milking cows and yes, they have had cows a long time because that is, what?, almost 57 years ago. No, they aren't selling the land. Back to the vitamins...
There are about a dozen geese that are hanging out in the field these days, sharing the pond. When the cows go, it will still be a mighty pleasant meadow and it will be alive with frogs and birds and rabbits and coyotes. It will be green and pretty and will change with the seasons. But I've grown quite fond of the cows and I will miss them.