Kathy Bassett's column, "The View from Maybell," appears in the Saturday Morning Press.
Did you ever wonder what a cow is thinking when it tips its head to one side and stares at you with those big eyes?
Is it good or bad?
Well, after working with them this week, I think I have a pretty good idea of what a cow is thinking, so I thought I’d just share some thoughts with you.
This was the week for shipping, so of course there were eight men who, during several weeks, rode and gathered the cattle off the mountain, from off the river and got them delivered into the pastures above the loading chutes.
It is a constant job to make sure the tanks are full of water for all the bulls, cows and calves, and I had no idea they drank so much. I stood there one morning watching them drink, and their mouths became like vacuum sweeper hoses, sucking water up by the gallons.
Of course, while their lips are formed into the hose end stuck into the water, their eyes never leave your face. Are they wondering what you are going to do next? Do they know what is in store for them?
Along came the big day when the shippers arrived and hauled off a great many cows, but the fields were still dotted with black cattle.
There were some calves in a pen that needed to be turned out every day for water along with a stray cow that belongs to a neighbor.
Once the calves and the cow are watered, then you are supposed to put them back into the corral and open the gate to the pasture, where some more cows and all the horses come in for water.
It is kind of fun, actually, and beats sitting behind a desk in a cubical. Well, mostly it’s fun.
When a cow doesn’t do what you want it to do, then it turns into work. Even with two people and a couple of good working border collies, the calves and cows have minds of their own and you just “ain’t gonna change it.”
On the day a couple of us let the calves out, this is what I think they were thinking:
“Awwww right! Lets see how much we can screw up these human’s day today!”
“OK! Whatcha got in mind — moo moo!”
“Well, we’ll get our drink first, cuz we don’t want to miss out on that and then we’ll play it by ear and see what comes along!”
“OK ... gotcha!”
“Mmmmmm — good water! Drink, drink, drink!”
“Hey! Is that a fish I see down there in the bottom of the tank?” “Well, I’ll be cow-squaggled! It sure is! Looky, there’s two of em!”
“Lemmee see!” “
Oooooh ... I think I want to go fishin’!”
Can you believe that silly calf jumped right into the water tank? Now how did that little cow-cow think we were going to get him out? The more he fought it, the worse it became. Of course, he got scared, too. He forgot all about the fish!
It took us awhile, but with the help of a long bar and shovin’ and grunting, we managed to get the little feller to put his front legs over the side and heaved him on out. Then it was just a matter of getting them back into the corral.
I called one ol’ cow a bull-headed thing and my buddy says, “You coulda called her anything else but that … I would’na cared!”
Then comes the day I gotta do it by myself. Holy tornadoes … what an adventure!
It ain’t nothing to let them out, they love getting out. After they had their fill of water, then me and Ani worked at getting them back in.
“Lets see how long she’ll walk around and around that granary!” “OK! Snicker!”
“Wonder why ol’ Bess went back into the corral?”
“Hmmmm. I dunno. Maybe it’s cuz that gal put some hay in there.”
“Do you think we should go back in before the rest of them and eat it all up?”
“Yeah! Probably so. I think we’ve run that human in circles long enough for one day!”
“Ok … if yer waitin’ on me … yer walkin’ backward!”
And, as soon as they were all safely back inside, and the horses and other cows were taking their turns at the water tank, I shut all the corral gates.
As I drove back to the house, I could see the remaining herd of cattle walking back into the hay meadows singing … “Moooovin’ on … the show is over for another day!”