My grandpa was a cow man. As well as farming almonds and raising chickens (which actually my grandma did), he used to buy calves and raise them until they were ready to be turned into all the things cows that don't produce milk get turned into. I wasn't aware of this at the time, I just knew that grandpa had cows and they all had names. He wasn't sentimental about his cows and was quite ready to exchange them for cash when their time was up - but he named each and every cow he owned. In the winter I loved finding Grandpa in the barn, which smelled of hay and warm cow, and in the summer the cows would be turned out in to the small field which ran along the side of the property and behind the barn, and was emerald with tender grass.
Grandpa's cows tended to be black or black/white but the next set of cows in my life was the huge white Brahman cattle in Nigeria. In most of Africa cows were originally the currency of everyday life. A man's status and wealth depended on how many cows he had. The Fulani are beautiful, nomadic people who herded cattle over vast distances and in Nigeria, in the early 70s, their cattle of choice were Brahmans. Originally from India, their natural resistance to heat, insects and disease, their gentle natures and their outstanding milk (leading to outstandingly big and healthy calves) made them popular in hot climates around the world. I was very young when we were in Nigeria but a lasting image was the very common one of beautiful, graceful Fulanis herding their beautiful and very distinctive cattle through the village.
My second favourite cows are the shaggy, red, peeking shyly through their bangs at you, Highland Cattle (or coos as we like to call them). I completely fell in love with these cows when we were in Scotland. They are the complete opposite of the Brahmans with low compact bodies and long shaggy fur to protect them from the cold wind and rain in the Highlands of Scotland.
Honestly, how can you resist those faces?
My third favourite are the ever popular Jersey cows. They are the glamour girls of the bovine world.
So, now you know far more about cows than you ever thought you should. But aren't they all gorgeous?
Here is one last picture of the closest I can get to owing a cow at this time in my life. Meet Francine.
The packet next to her is a starter kit for a herd of cows. The front says "Genuine California Cow Seeds - Grow Your Own Herd - Herd Starter Kit - Directions on UDDER side" and on the "UDDER side" it says:
1. To start herd, follow directions to the letter.
2. Plant the seeds in a warm spot.
3. Plant seeds right side up or cows will grow upside down.
4. Be patient, cows need time to grow.
5. For best results, moo softly while watering."
Corny? Oh yeah! But I couldn't resist.