“I love cows.”
I heard this from several women during my recent trip to Connecticut. They were not referring to steak.
These were women from the East Coast, whose acquaintance with cattle is restricted to observation, either from a footpath, fenced off, or an automobile’s window. Some of them are the people who became enamored in recent years of keeping hens in the city.
In this case, they’re mainly referring to dairy cows, I think, which comprise most of the animals I saw.
Which were very few in number, as a matter of fact.
I think I was a little homesick during that month I was away. I was visiting in Washington, CT, and staying about twenty-five minutes away in Litchfield. I’ve written before about the narrow twisty roads and forested terrain.
I had two routes I could use between the locations. The meandering route took me up a hill on a curvy and rutted gravel road, past pastures and farms for a few miles.
In one of the pastures, I saw four cows. It was a fairly good-sized field, but the cows were standing quite close together. I’ve seen cows grouped like that around here, so I didn’t think a whole lot about it the first time. I was awfully glad to see them, though. Up until I did, I hadn’t seen an animal anywhere around there that wasn’t a dog.
Not even many birds, although I think they were there, staying quiet.
Seeing the cows was a small touch of home, I guess.
The second time I saw them, they were grouped the same way, as though they were tied together. Surely not, I thought. I could see no rope or halter. And why would anyone do that? (I should point out here, although it’s obvious, that I know nothing about the cattle business. And my usual consultant on bovine matters is not around anymore.)
But I began to make a point of checking every day. I looked forward to my daily visit. Sometimes I would stop and murmur at them through the window.
Some days the cows were grazing at a gentle distance from each other. The weather was generally mild and the grass was plentiful, as it is here and for the same reason. Rain.
Finding comfort in cattle began for me as a result of the serious drought here a few years ago. As the landscape around us went sere and sorrowful, the cows disappeared. Their absence seemed to intensify the pain the countryside was enduring. Living things, us among them, were under attack, that’s how it felt.
When the rains came and the cattle came back, I felt relief. And even now, driving back roads from Round Top to our place, I feel an ease when I see a herd grazing peacefully, or standing shoulder deep in a tank, or even huddled under a tree for shade.
Toward the end of my Connecticut visit, in the evening, I found three of the cows bedded down in the grass, two of them nose to tail, very close, the bigger one on her side. I’d never seen that before. The fourth one was standing over them in a protective manner.
The next morning, when I drove by, four cows were grazing, and right alongside the darker one stood a tiny calf.
You have no idea how the sight lifted my spirits.