Hint: think sound
Now, I'd heard these sounds before; a calf bleating (or do only sheep and goats bleat?), and mama answering. The difference between those instances and the one I'm telling you about today is that there were about two dozen calves and their moms doing some cacophonous wailing that lasted not only a few hours, but four days.
Really. Four Days.
So, returning to the images at the beginning of this post, the one on the left, calf with cow, sounded like the one on the right, a fog horn. Sad, sad sounds are made by a calf and its mother when the youngster is separated from her, but the ones I heard this day and for three days following were the volume equivalent of a philharmonic orchestra. A woodwind orchestra with star performers in the bassoon and oboe sections.
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There are many bassoon and oboe duets but the ones on YouTube were too jaunty....WAY too happy.....The two short works above, oboe on the left, bassoon with strings on the right, depict mournful bovines quite well......
on Wise's farm. All serene there, everyone enjoying a
yummy breakfast of grasses that hadn't felt a solitary drop
of rain on its blades in weeks. Heading west, toward
Gibson's farm, the sounds increased in volume and clarity and eerily resembled fog horns in two different pitches:
Directly across the road from Gibson's is another farm with a sizable herd of cattle, who were the audience to Mr. Gibson's cattle concert. Totally unfazed by the ruckus. These cows, the audience ones, I long ago named the Happy To See You Herd. They amble up to the fence or stare in dazed wonder when I pass by. Mr. Gibson's herd behaves the exact opposite. Every time they see me approach they lumber off in a graceless gallop, or with as much haste as their cumbersome bodies allow. Because of how they react to me I've dubbed them the Scaredy Cow Herd.
I've never raised cattle. Didn't grow up on a farm, and
before moving to America's Midwest I knew nothing about cattle apart from names of some breeds and which ones were fated to fill a dinner plate or a drinking glass. But even with my limited knowledge of life on a cattle farm I felt pretty sure I knew what was going on here; the youngsters had been separated from their mothers because they had to be weaned before being taken from the only home they'd known. But so I didn't assume wrongly, I asked a couple of my cattle-growing customers if that's what was going on. The answer was a unanimous:
I was given more details than that, details such as the best times of year to wean calves, that it can take 7 to 14 days, why weaning is necessary for breeding cycles and preventing disease. Far more scientific than the weaning process for humans. Early into infancy we are eager to get our babies off a liquid diet and onto "solid food". And the reward? They
can spit up larger portions of a more colorful and substantive cuisine.
Day 3: Many mothers have moved on, returned to the field but within eyesight of the young'uns. Occasionally one releases a fog horn wail from her centerfield position and a calf replies.
Day 4: Only five mothers stand at the railing, their crying dissolved into sniffling. From my position atop the hill all the calves appear to be there. I wanted to talk to Mr. Gibson about this whole process but he has a herd of dogs who amuse themselves with rousing games of Let's Chase The Human whenever I get too close to the main house so I didn't search for him.
Day 5: One cow. Brings to mind the childhood playground song, "The Farmer In The Dell" except that the cheese isn't standing alone, a cow is. One cow. All the babies still there making little noise. No mothers are mooing from the field.
Day 6: One cow, no calves. If I've described these six days with enough clarity I don't need to share a picture with you to imagine that sight. She just stood silently, looking into an empty corral.
A nose only a child could love....
Any such cycles going on in your area of the world? Any
personal experience with them?