Clever Cows!!!!

This one’s about cows, real ones, in my case Dexters. I’ve got five of those beefy little milkers as we like to call this old Irish breed. Their main job is to be happy, healthy and munch as much as they can to keep the grass short. I’ve been away for 12 months. Yesterday I had two lady friends from the choir I sing in come over for a cup of tea. One had brought her puppy dog along and we talked about educating doggies. My dog Mara (you can see her on Facebook) follows the commands ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘come’ and ‘stay’. The last one is convenient when working in the paddocks and you have to jump in the car to dash home for a tool you left behind. Saves you from loading the dog up again. With my old paddock basher you have to open two doors in the back. It makes it easier if you leave an item like a sweaty jumper with the dog for her to guard and she would stay for up to 20 minutes where I had left her. Properly trained dogs stay for hours … but I was happy enough with my results.Dexter-tiny

Back to my beefy milkers. For convenience I had trained them to come to a call I have copied from a dear German farmer who has long since died. Sometimes I wonder if he can hear me using his special call and smiles from wherever he is now. Paddocks can be very large and why run after the cows if you can get them to come to you? So the call went like: “Komm her, komm her, komm her, komm!” Of course all words spoken as one and very fast with an ‘acreage voice’, i.e., as loud as you can. Being in a choir comes in handy here as I have learned – a bit – to project my voice, pushing out the volume. As you can easily see, that cow call is very similar to the command for my dog ‘come’. It has happened in the past that I had called my dog, but the cows heard me first and instead of my white Maremma appearing on the horizon, I got bellowing and black cows standing at the gate, anticipating something nice to eat. Of course that’s how these things work: with yummy or lekker food. Not so different from how we get our human family to the table.

Back to my lady friends and our chatting on the veranda. I asked them if I should demonstrate the ‘cow call’, to show them how loud you’d have to be. My Dexters were in the front paddock which stretches a long way away from the house. So, I cupped my hands around my mouth and yelled “Komm her, komm her, komm her, komm!” Gosh, that’s loud, Sue said. I nodded and poured her another cup of tea and we continued talking as women would. About a minute later, we heard a loud bellowing from the dam, and only a moment later we heard a second bellowing, closer this time. Two minutes after my call, all my Dexters were standing at the gate! I was amazed, but also happy and proud of them. I had told my friends before that I was certain my cows had recognized me. Here was the proof. Shortly after this my friends left and I took some chaff with their minerals out to my cows. As they all milled around me, I sang Scarborough Fair to them. This is their favourite song because it’s the one I used years back when I persuaded Sheila to share her milk with her calf and me. To sit on a fallen tree at the end of a back breaking farm day, filthy and sweaty and have a cool drink while the cows quietly munch and burp around you, is extremely relaxing. Maybe I should consider running relaxation or meditation workshops using cows. Need to find a catchy name for it though.

This was going to be the end of my cow story, but as I’m writing away, I hear this metallic hacking sound from outside. Deng, deng, deng – pause, then again, deng, deng, deng and pause. I go to check what’s happening out there and see a kookaburra bird banging an empty coke can against a log. The boys had been practising target shooting with an air rifle. The kooka was really having a go at the can. I imagined a worm inside the can … the worm had slipped into the can to armour himself up against the hungry kookaburra, kind of like a knight in armour. Well, the worm would be pulp soon, the kookaburra still hungry. So, who’s clever now, the cows or the kooka bird?

Posted in Animal behaviour, Australia
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