Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Help you, I can! Yes. MMM." - Cow Master CowYoda

In preparation for the farming classes I will be teaching on behalf of the city of Spokane, I will prepare a lesson for ya'll folks.

Topic one: Field preparedness
It is important to groom your field prior to bringing cattle on it.  Weeds prevent the proper growth of a healthy grassland and thereby reduce the amount of food your cows can get for free in an already challenged area where the free-grass-season is two hours long.  The rest of the year pay you must for cut, baled feed.  That much baling twine on a farm trips a person up, a lot. Expect bloody noses.  As a direct result of not keeping your field free of weeds.

Should weeds invade your farm, you will need to remove them.  You can do this by poisoning your cattle as your spray weed-killer on their food.  Or by digging up weeds in the spring and breaking your back.  No matter what method you choose, remember that every square foot of soil contains enough weed seeds to keep said square feet flush for over 100 years.  It is a loosing battle. 

Mugwart is a noxious weed, and a poisonous hallucinogen as well.  It is a perennial and will get stuck in your field for millennia.  Unfortunately, cows will not eat the stuff: 1) it reproduces without restraint and 2) your milk is never quite THAT interesting. 

The other weed-to-watch is thistle.  Remember that Eeyore was not a cow. Cows don't eat thistles.  And so to reduce thistle, you will want to cut it down before it flowers.  If you are late on this, you can also cut down the not-yet-seedy flowers and put them in a bag in your garbage can.  You will want to select a thick bag as thistles are always pokier than you remember them.  Do NOT select an old feed bag as your thick bag.  Although it meets the requirements for padding, it also excites the cows who see you traipsing around their territory, unarmed, and carrying what can be reasonably interpreted by any reasonable cow as a 50# bag of feed. 

Farming is all in understanding how the cow thinks.  The cow thinks, "OH MY GOD!! FOOD!!"  And then thinks, "How fast can I get to it?"  Followed shortly thereafter by a more instinctual instruction to the legs to run as fast as they can while also kicking out to the side in a dance of joy,. 

Farming is also understanding how to think like a farmer.  The farmer thinks, "OH MY GOD!! CHARGING COWS!"  The well-seasoned farmer responds with inexpert kung fu, shrill screaming, followed immediately by running away.  The learned farmer will turn around periodically to threaten the cows in creative new languages that the farmer invents on the spot because the farmer is just that experienced.  The farmer will also expertly wave a small hand-clippers at the cows mimicking the light saber and chanting, "Much to learn, you still have!"

Break out session: break in to small groups and discuss:  If a cow charges, how should you respond?  If a cow thinks you are carrying something tasty to eat, will she charge?  What steps could prevent an over eager cow?  The answers are very tricky and always wrong.  Much to learn, you still have!

Topic two:  automatic cow sympathy systems: who's side are you on?
Cows will sympathize not with the expert farmer, but with each other.  Let's say you have separated one from it's calf in order to milk the next morning.  The one you have expertly chosen is the quiet and docile, more cow-like cow, frankly.  But the one who is free, with her calf, to roam the weedy wastelands in which you imprison her, may feel a kinship to what is likely to be both her daughter and lesbian lover who you've locked up.  The other cow, this less cow-like cow, understands what the docile one does not, and that is that mooing desperately at 4 freaking AM is an effective way to bring neighborhood shame on her captor.  So although one cow is locked up and fine with that, the other will provide urgent, ear-splitting sympathy moo's.  The expert farmer will, however, not give in to this and soon, after several weeks, the cow will appear to loose her voice... her bellows becoming croakier and quieter. Neighbors may call cow-CPS at this point, so beware!  A good idea at this point might be gifts to all neighbors: earplugs wrapped neatly in Far Side comics, perhaps. 

The expert farmer will remain firm in her milking schedule, for to give in will create whiney and demanding bitches of her cows, who are already half way there.  The expert farmer will occasionally consider slaughtering her spoiled cows but then wonders how she will teach cow classes if she murders her subjects and if this won't after all prove she is just an amateur psycho and not a real, expert farmer psycho.

Break out session: what do you think duct tape could accomplish on a farm?  Could it be used to silence the herd?  Do you own a large caliber gun?  Are you willing to use it?  Can you field dress a cow?

2 comments:

  1. Sarah, thank you! I needed a good laugh! I'd love to know did you drop the feed bag before or after you started running??

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Kerry! After all that effort, I clutched the bag all the way home, leaping over the gate with it still in hand.

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