The Farmer’s Wife – Cow’s Don’t Really Understand English!
Have you ever stared down a cow?
While we were share farming in Victoria, we would sometimes tended to the young heifers on adjustment blocks. These young cows were usually around eighteen months or so old, in calf and growing fast; ready to have their first calf and join the milking herd. They were big black and white Friesian cows weighing a whopping 500kg plus, even at such a young age.
On one of these occasions we were drenching the stock. Drenching is where you vaccinate the cows and give them worming and other preventative treatments. This involved collecting the young stock up into the yards and running them through the race; a long alleyway with bars on either side into a crush where the cattle could be held safely while we worked on them. Anyway, this particular set of yards was not fully equipped and the cows had to pass a gap in the raceway before reaching the crush. Most cows were easily directed past the gap by just waving our arms and standing in front of the opening. Unfortunately one big Friesian decided the gap was big enough and I was too small to offer any serious resistance.
Now I am 5’4 or 165cm on my most exaggerated day and I weigh about 55kg. When a cow over 10 times my size decides she is going to ignore me and push past, I really don’t have much of a choice. Do I give in and let her go by? Or do I make a lot of noise and try and intimidate her into staying where I want her? Well I had been farming for a while at this stage, but I was still young with plenty to prove. I decide I would stand my ground and try to intimidate this big fat cow back into the yards. Well surprise, surprise, she was not scared of me; they usually are believe it or not. I yelled, I screamed, I kicked and I smacked her on the nose; but do you know what? She just closed her big brown eyes and took another step forward each time I grumbled at her. She did not understand my words and even if she did, she didn’t care. Her big bulky body slowly made its way past me until the wide open spaces were too much for me to guard and she was off, running and kicking and jumping like an excited calf, free of the yards which confined her.
I can still remember what it felt like to stare down so much size and power. There are times in your life when you can keep trying to prove the point and you can be victorious. There are also times when you have to duck and run, knowing that it is simply the safest and wisest option.