Cows Uncowed

Most mornings Travvy and I walk around part of the big field at Misty Meadows. Owned by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, a conservation group, it’s leased to two Chilmark farms, Mermaid and North Tabor. From time to time, thanks to the wondrous portability of electric fencing, livestock take up residence in some part of the field. We’ve seen goats and we’ve seen sheep, and just now we’re seeing cattle — not for the first time, but it’s been a while.

When we passed by yesterday, most of them were grazing or snoozing.

Then one cow took notice and came over to check us out. Another made ready to follow suit.

Trav does not find cows as fascinating as he does either goats or sheep, possibly because they tend to move slowly and deliberately. He also has a healthy respect for electric fencing, having accidently bumped into it on a narrow path a couple of years ago. The late Rhodry, being a barn dog for more than half his life, had so much respect for electric fencing that he was reluctant to go anywhere near anything string-like lying on the ground.

This one had the most interesting face. If she were a horse, her coloring would be described as “high white” — white above the knees and hocks on an otherwise dark animal — and attributed to the sabino gene. I don’t know how color genetics works in cattle or what the various color patterns are called. (If you do, please clue me in!)

This one was noticeably smaller, her horns less developed, than the others, so I’m guessing she’s a youngster.

These guys were less interested in us than in something off to the right. I’m still not sure what it was.

By this point, most of the herd was moving in our general direction. They seemed to have no interest in testing the fence, though I did wonder if they might inadvertently lean too hard on it. Clearly Trav and I were a distraction from grazing and snoozing, so we went on our way.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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4 Responses to Cows Uncowed

  1. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only cow fan 🙂
    I grew up in the country and saw my share of cows. I always loved their eyes and the way they gathered under trees, hours before a storm.
    When they are grazing freely, they seem quite content.


  2. As a huge Cow Fan, I would say the patterns are called “Perfect”! Any cow, any time…sipping champagne on the hillsides when we aren’t looking (like the Gar Larson cartoon says)… What is not to love?


  3. Ellen T. Miller says:

    Thanks for the pictures of those lovely cows. I have always liked the way they smell — sweeter and less intense than horses, not sure why since they eat mostly the same things. Someone told me if you see cows lying down it will rain later in the day — have not had time to check out this theory. BTW I finished rereading the Mud of the Place, and am curious how you know so much Yiddish? Certain expressions have become American slang but are not usually used accurately…do tell… Best, Ellen


    • About Yiddish — I sure didn’t learn it at home, but about a third of my high school class was Jewish, and when you hang out for years with lefties and the feminist daughters of lefties, you pick a few things up. 🙂

      I’m always comparing cattle to horses (which I know a lot better) and thinking they’re more angular and more deliberate. Less spooky. If you want to visit these guys, you can park at the little trailhead just off Old County and take a walk around the field.


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