Monday, 13 August 2012

Dead cow

    The title says it all really, yesterday our oldest cow died. Not a sad moment, in that she was a geriatric amongst cattle, over twenty years old which is well beyond a bovine three score years and ten. In her prime she was the matriarch of our little herd, but as she became decrepit we had moved her into our back field where she pottered around unmolested by younger animals. Yesterday morning she was on her feet in the sun, by early afternoon she had died. Probably a better end that having her hip give out and being euthanised by the vet.
    There was a time when we'd have fired up the digger and buried her, just as farmers would have done for centuries. I remember doing exactly that over twenty years ago for our first matriarch, as a spotty teenager learning to use a backhoe on the clay. However since the BSE panic in the 1990s the Government have insisted on the incineration of dead cattle that don't enter the food chain, so this morning a truck will come to take her away.
   Of course, our back field is not close to the road, so my afternoon yesterday was unexpectedly spent moving her with our ever-handy digger. Quite a task, cows weigh a hell of a lot and even though the rain has now gone away the digger still managed to get stuck more than once. Unfortunately the extra load had a habit of lifting the steering wheels off the ground, making it a difficult machine to control. So a hot afternoon with chains and a Kawasaki Mule, inching the larger vehicle through the mire in a cloud of diesel exhaust.
    A somewhat undignified final journey for the cow.
    My normal walking of my parents dog was a little later than usual yesterday. Grubby and aching from my exertions, when the dog plunged into the river I succumbed to temptation and went for a paddle, something I haven't done for about thirty years. I didn't emulate the dog in going for a swim, water up to my knees was refreshing enough.
    As I return to my week in an office I'll no doubt be asked about my weekend. I'm not sure whether a dead cow counts as Polite Conversation.


  1. In the past she would have returned to the earth perhaps to fertilise some stone fruit tree like a cherry as a fitting memorial. Instead at a stroke of a pen there is waste, cost and an undignified end. Life is surreal, quite stranger than fiction...

  2. Is there a real danger from a buried animal? I have no idea on such things. You must have been exhausted after doing all that work. It's a bit of a catch twenty-two scenario, a wet and muddy ground would perhaps provide much lubrication but at the same time making traction for the vehicle difficult. Maybe a self-tracked vehicle would have been a better option but it's not something most people have in case their cow dies!

    Shirley Anne x

  3. Jenny, I'm sure this was emotional for you. I have nothing but cats, but they mean so much to me and I'm so close to them. When one has passed on, it's just so sad. I'm glad you're doing OK.

    Being able to walk by the river, well it just sound like you live in paradise. I hope that I can see your homeland one more time before I pass on.

    Calie xxx