Friday, August 26, 2011

A Life Lesson from the Cow

This morning, the chickens were fine but the cow was causing a ruckus.  Our cow is a five month old steer.  He probably weighs about 600lbs and continues to grow daily.  That's a good thing.  It's what we want for this cow but it also means that he's got more weight to throw around. 

I try my very best not to come in direct conflict with the cow.  I prefer to feed and water him after he's been set out to pasture.  On the rare occasion that I do have to handle him directly, I enlist help.  When I feed and water him, I work hard at establishing rapport.  I scratch his head, neck and ears.  I talk to him.  I make sure he has what he needs.  Our relationship is one of cooperative coworkers.  The effort has paid off and the cow loves me.  Sometimes a little too much.

My husband takes a different tactic with the cow.  He uses muscle to bend the cow to his wishes.  On occasion he uses a hammer.  His relationship with the cow is more of a master/servant situation.  I believe the cow knows this.  My husband thinks I'm crazy.

When I went out to the barn this morning my husband was cursing the cow. The cow had bolted and wouldn't allow my husband anywhere near him.  My husband blamed the cursed cow.  I blamed the hammer and the fact that no one appreciates being approached by an angry, cursing man.  Especially not prior to 6:00a.m.

I arrived on the scene after my husband had spent much effort and about twenty minutes trying to catch and contain the cow.  The cow was munching serenely in an upper part of the field.  My husband was trying in vain to grab the cow's halter.  As my husband would draw close the cow would trot out of reach and begin eating again.  My husband had tried talking to the cow, admittedly the conversation wasn't particularly pleasant.  He'd also tried sneaking up on the cow with no better results. 

In my prior dealings with the cow, I learned that I am not comfortable just grabbing the cows halter nor do I have the weight or strength necessary to manage the cow up that close.  I need a longer handle.  A dog leash works well in a pinch. 

I went to the barn, collected the leash and walked up into the field.  As I approached the cow, I talked to him as I always do.  I belief in rapport served me well in this situation.  The cow let me walk up to him, he offered his head to be scratched and I was able to attach the leash to his halter.  My husband took the lead with some choice words for the cow and led him to his pasture for the day.

Now, it may have been just coincidence but I think this is another example of catching more flies with sugar than with vinegar.  I wonder if the originator of that phrase had a cow.

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