Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

curiosity of cows

I was browsing through some old pictures tonight. Well, old is a relative term. These were from January 19 of this year. It was snowy (I am so not ready for winter!), and I remember that Otis and Petey were let out to run around for the first time since they’d gotten to the sanctuary. Crazy little babies they were! And of course I snapped as many pictures as I could. Tucked away in that set were a few pictures with one of the cows.

Here’s the thing about cows. They are often assumed to be sort of stupid. The reality is that they are intensely curious about others. They don’t tend to react quickly, especially when compared to most of the other, smaller, animals we’re surrounded by, but it is our failing that we tend to take the different speed to be an indicator of relative intelligence. Or of anything at all.

Mostly we have no clue.

But these cows…whenever there is something or someone new, you can count on the cows to be right there, checking things out.

And this is harder to put into words adequately, but their curiosity and attention in these situations is focused outward. When my cat is intensely interested in something, it is because she wants to capture it, and likely kill it and eat it. Even if it is a twist tie, that’s generally still her relationship to whatever is sparking her curiosity. Humans don’t seem to be much different, at least not the average human.

Cows are different, at least the cows I have gotten to know. They don’t have these hierarchies that exist in most other animals. They mostly stay together, but they don’t always. There’s no one leader, they are just somehow a group of individuals that have formed a community. They are a collective.

And something about that kind of social network makes them more focused on others than on self. Or that is my theory.

That’s what comes through when you see them watching, fascinated, as baby pigs run around outside for the first time, checking everything out and running with absolute glee through the inch of snow on the ground. That’s what you notice when you see a giant cow delicately following the antic-filled lead of a baby pig.

Cows aren’t stupid. They’re not placid. And though one of my coworkers claims that cows don’t want to live, he is wrong.

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8 responses to “curiosity of cows

  1. nothoney November 14, 2008 at 9:33 am

    What a lovely post with my second cup of Teeccino and what great pics. Cows are, IMO, as smart as they need to be. I guess the same can be said of pigs, or giant pandas, etc. I haven’t met all of the cows at the sanctuary, but the few I have met seem quite nice and curious.

    Off to buy boots today. I can no longer do the chores in my sneakers in this weather.

    s.

  2. greentangle November 14, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Cows don’t want to live?? How frigging bizarre. What’s his theory on why they haven’t all bashed their heads to commit mass suicide? Too stupid, I suppose.

    Must have been fun to watch the photo events.

  3. Shana November 14, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Deb,

    How expensive is it compared to calendars to print up a packet of holiday cards? That first picture makes me want to send a card! I love cows! Especially beautiful brown ones like the one in your pictures here.

  4. Deb November 14, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    @ Sheryl – I think you’ll be very happy to have the boots! It is supposed to be a wet day tomorrow!

    @ greentangle – that was my reaction too! He didn’t have a theory on why they didn’t try to slit their own throats or at least stop eating. He just shook his head. The real problem, I am guessing, is that the only way he can justify his own complicity in their death is to believe that they didn’t want to live anyway.

    I always tell Terry that though I volunteer to help there, I get more out of it than I give. There is just nothing that compares to some of the beautiful things that I see at the sanctuary. šŸ™‚

    @ Shana – I’m not sure what the cost would be. I’ll do some research and get back to you. I have a feeling it will be around $1 per card (with envelope), which seems pricey to me, but I don’t ever seem to send out cards, so I’m not sure what people typically spend on them. It is a good idea though! I’ll try to find more information this weekend!

  5. Ari Moore November 16, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    What a lovely post and photos, thanks for posting this. I was just talking with a veganic farmer yesterday, and she was telling me how loving and contemplative and community-minded her rescued cow friends are. If only everyone could spend a little time with some cows, really get to know them.

  6. Deb November 16, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it, Ari! I definitely agree that it could make a huge difference if people did spend time to get to know cows, and all the other animals. It becomes so clear that these are individuals with distinct personalities, vibrant lives…

  7. Gary November 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I love the pictures – so expressive – and cows are amazing. They’re amazing not in a “hey watch me juggle and ride a unicycle” way…more like…to know them is to love them and be awed by their quiet complexity and peacefulness and friendliness.

    Although I think the hunting instinct is always at the ready with my cat, his interactions sometimes seem entirely unpredator-like. For instance, his relationship with our rabbit is more like…well, teenage brother and sister would sort of describe it! Not always lovey, sometimes some rivalry, but they seem to enjoy each other’s company (athough they might not admit it). And like most cats he gets a kick out of manipulating humans!

    “Cows don’t want to live”?!! How twisted is that? Wait – caught myself. It’s just another of the endless rationalizations by exploiters for their exploitations. My mind wanders to the hunters who claim that their victims enjoy being hunted…Wow, we can be frightening sometimes.

  8. Hal Anthony December 12, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Cows seem quite peaceful animals to me, and although quite large in size and food requirements, there certainly wouldn’t be too many if they weren’t being bred for milk and meat.

    Pain sucks — why cause it? Only people who love pain should inflict it, and with permission of the inflicted, of course. “Okay, Bessie, paw the ground three times if you’d like to be on a plate…”. Yeah, I don’t think so.

    Go vegan. Best choice you can ever make. Only good things happen under THAT umbrella šŸ™‚ http://www.pcrm.org

    –Hal, Vegan/Veteran for Peace

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