Sunday, May 15, 2016

The cow whisperer

Ilderton, ON
May 2016
The scene: I'm on my bike just northwest of London. I've cut my ride short and am trying to outrun the rain. It's cold, grey and nasty, and with the wind at my back I'm hitting ridiculous speeds on the rolling two-lane road.

Suddenly I see a herd of cows in my peripheral vision, a flicker of black and white and bouncing tails on a distant patch of soft green. Every other farm along this stretch is absolutely devoid of life - their animals were probably smart enough to head inside in advance of the rain. But this farm is different. Lots of cows, as far as the eye can see.

For some unexplained reason, I allow myself to coast to a stop. The winds are getting stronger and the rain is now beginning to streak my sunglasses. I should be on the bike, gunning for home, but something makes me stop and take in this pastoral pasture scene.

Out comes the smartphone - because pictures! - and I quickly snap off a few selfies and landscapes before tucking it back in my bike bag. That should be the end of it, but as I secure the bag and prepare to head out, I hear a rustling behind me. The cows are coming closer, which strikes me as bizarre. Don't cows run away when weirdo-cyclists show up on the other side of the fence? Maybe they do, but this particular herd never seems to have gotten the memo.

I hear faint echoes of a Clint Eastwood-esque standoff as I stare alternately at the flimsy-looking wire fence and the dozens of massive bovine now standing shoulder-to-shoulder, staring me down. While logic and history have taught me that these gentle giants are more curious than nasty, I shudder in the wind as my imagination paints a worst-case scene for me.

So I reach for the camera one more time to grab a few more images before I button it up for good and hit the pedals for home.

What I wouldn't give to know what they're thinking.


Gilly said...

Cows, for all their reputation as stupid, are actually quite bright, and do like to know what is going on. Are you absolutely sure they were cows, ie with milking equipment, and not what we here call steers, ie future roast beef on legs? I don't actually doubt your ability to identify animals, but steers are born with a greater degree of curiosity and also a desire to get up close and personal with the object of their curiosity. I hope you on your bike could outrun a herd of steers! It was downhill, wasn't it???

Karen S. said...

I believe the majority of those cows are wondering the same thing about you!

Pat Tillett said...

I LOVE this photo! It screams to be enlarged and framed.
It is awesome!

Tony McGurk said...

A fantastic photo Carmi & your very well written story had me chuckling.