Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Field of cows: if you don’t eat them, they will come

When I came across these bison last week, I thought I'd repeat my impromptu cow pasture party. But the keepers of these animals gave me a stern warning: I would be trampled in short order if I tried it. Particularly since a new baby had been born the day before.

I was driving along a Washington State country road when I spotted a pasture dotted with grazing cows. And a wild impulse struck me.

I pulled my car over to the side, jumped out and ran towards the fence that contained the lowing beasts. Sprinting a short distance into the field, I spread my arms wide and cried out: "Come to me, cows! Come on over. You're safe with me. I'm a vegetarian!"

And lowing behold, one by one their heads began to turn my way. Slowly they started trudging in my direction. Before long, about 50 cows had formed a circle around me. They even left a comfortable safety zone, a six-foot radius that allowed me to stand amidst them.

I was surrounded by a sea of wet noses and big brown eyes and soft velvety fur. The occasional "moo-oo-oo" floated above the crowd, but other than that, the gathering was quiet.

We stood there for a few moments, taking each other in -- majestic, powerful beasts versus a wimpy, curious human being. They could have crushed me if they wanted to, but their gentle nature caused them to come over and greet me instead.

Then, sensing it was time for us to part ways, the cows began dispersing with their slow, determined gait. A few lingered behind, and I rubbed their noses before saying goodbye.

Apparently this animal looks much more easy-going than he actually is.

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