Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Cow

Man, did I start something! And it was wonderful! The other day I posted a picture of a fraulein catchin' hospital air in a Bovino-Cross or some such. Two of our friends, Jay in N.C. and Sarge, then carried on a lively discussion of their histories with cows and other livestock. It was mostly on a high plane, which means they never once mentioned the term 'stump broke'. Gentlemen, they are.

My Dad sold cattle ranches for a living, and I got to travel around California, Nevada, and Oregon with him in the summers when I was a kid. Out West is different from Back East or The South, but the cows are pretty much the same.

I got to thinkin' about an old book I have and dug it out. It's called, simply enough, "The Cow" by Joe M. Evans and is subtitled "About all I know I learned from a cow". It was first published in 1944 and cost a dollar. This book is available from Amazon at an amazingly high price. Much less expensive here and there is a picture of the cover on the edition I have (scroll down a little). It's a slender tome and can be read in an hour or so.

The first line of the book is as follows:

The cow is a four legged animal with horns, hide, teats and tail. She produces beef and milk and calves, and is surrounded by cowboys and mortgages.

It goes on from there to describe the differences in the cattle biz from 1884 to 1944, and a few life lessons learned from observing these critters for many years.

Since raising cows is all about feeding them, one of the best chapters in the book is an essay about grass. The version here is slightly different from the version in the book, but I would rather c&p than type. I think it's beautiful. In the book it is called simply "Grass".

"In Praise of Blue Grass," John James Ingalls*

*Proving that at some time in the far past there was at least one good Republican in Kansas. It was "The Party Of Lincoln" then, but no more.

[Lying in the sunshine among the buttercups and dandelions of May, scarcely higher in intelligence than the minute tenants of that mimic wilderness, our earliest recollections are of grass; and when the fitful fever is ended, and the foolish wrangle of the market and forum is closed, grass heals over the scar which our descent into the bosom of the earth has made, and the carpet of the infant becomes the blanket of the dead.

Grass is the forgiveness of nature--her constant benediction. Fields trampled with battle, saturated with blood, torn with the ruts of cannon, grow green again with grass, and carnage is forgotten. Streets abandoned by traffic become grass-grown like rural lanes, and are obliterated. Forests decay, harvests perish, flowers vanish, but grass is immortal. Beleaguered by the sullen hosts of winter, it withdraws into the impregnable fortress of its subterranean vitality, and emerges upon the first solicitation of Spring. Sown by the winds, by wandering birds, propagated by the subtle horticulture of the elements which are its ministers and servants, it softens the rude outline of the world. Its tenacious fibres hold the earth in its place, and prevent its soluble components from washing into the wasting sea. It invades the solitude of deserts, climbs the inaccessible slopes and forbidding pinnacles of mountains, modifies climates, and determines the history, character, and destiny of nations. Unobtrusive and patient, it has immortal vigor and aggression. Banished from the thoroughfare and the field, it bides its time to return, and when vigilance is relaxed, or the dynasty has perished, it silently resumes the throne from which it has been expelled, but which it never abdicates. It bears no blazonry or bloom to charm the senses with fragrance or splendor, but its homely hue is more enchanting than the lily or the rose. It yields no fruit in earth or air, and yet should its harvest fail for a single year, famine would depopulate the world.]

I hope you enjoyed this. I'll keep this little book close to the top of the pile and may post short bits of it from time to time.

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