Thursday, June 17, 2010


Yesterday, I was certain Matilda was dying. I made my mid-week visit to the animals and noticed stringy blood on her backside. Blood around an animal's backside is rarely a good sign. In fact, it's usually a very, very bad sign. I spent the evening researching this topic and decided she suffered from a variety of rare but serious diseases. I was convinced that the primary culprit was Coronvirus - something cattle transmit at deadly speed in the middle of winter when housed in feed lots. This being Texas in the summer with the three cows living on a spacious 15 acres, made the winter disease...well...totally illogical. But it was too late. I read this disease exists and therefore Matilda would die (It's for this very reason that I avoid checking Web MD for my personal ailments. I tend to, er, worry).

In order to save Matilda from the dreaded disease(s), it was clear that a vet must be called and a small army of neighbors summoned to rope the poor heifer so that she could be adequately medicated to ward off the disease(s). My entire weekend would be ruined by this activity and the constant concern over her mortality. Dammit, I wasn't in the mood for this. Especially because my job required that I spend the day in Fort Worth, three hours from the land, making it impossible to assist in the Matilda-saving efforts. I drove to Forth Worth this morning, white knuckles gripping the steering wheel, glancing at the phone waiting for the vet to return my frantic call. My mother generously traveled to the land to check on Matilda's health which I was certain was deteriorating since her disease(s) worked quickly. I decided early it was going to be an awful day.

Until my phone rang. The vet calmly listened to my dramatic story: the sight of the blood, her labored breathing, slight lethargy, general disinterest in me. I was out of breath at the end of the description and readied myself for a dreaded response. What I got was a long sigh. A chuckle. And a "Oh ma'am. I haven't seen the heifer myself yet but from what you've described.....well...your cow's just got her period." Long silence. "Ma'am?" Ok, I wasn't convinced yet. "What about the labored breathing and lethargy?" I squeaked out, painfully embarrassed. "Heat, ma'am. 98 degree heat sure does cause that in a cow." But, but..."What about the disinterest in my presence?" Long silence on his end, then the obvious explanation, "She's a cow ma'am. They ain't very smart." Excellent point.

Of all the sophisticated search words entered into google last night, I failed to include "bovine menstruation" although Jer notably suggested it as the curious "disease." I brushed him off, laughing hysterically at the notion of a cow period. I mean. Come on.

How ironic also to be in Cowtown, USA dressed in heels and suit, with cows on my mind rather than the topic I was supposed to discuss at a conference. Before me sat a room full of men wearing polished cowboy boots, handlebar mustaches, and dinner-plate sized belt buckles. I was certain they had cattle, and I desperately wanted to change the subject from education policy to the more pressing issue of bovine epidemiology. If we could just talk about cattle instead than my two worlds would happily, finally collide. It took enormous restraint, and some professional integrity, not to just blurt into the microphone - "Did you know your cows have periods? Who knew this? Can we all just head to the bar downstairs and discuss?"

On days like today I wonder if people spot me as a livestock owner, manure chucker, fence builder, chicken handler, donkey tamer? I get a secret thrill from the shock that spreads over the faces of those who have prematurely pegged me as a condo dweller in the city once they learn that I am, well, quite the opposite. Gladly, the opposite. Even if it means discussing the density and shape of cow manure with a large animal vet while wearing my suit, driving into the big city. Life is most interesting in its contrasts.

1 comment:

Keri said...

Hahaha...this is one of my favorite stories so far. :) Glad all is well in cow land and that it was just Aunt Flo paying a visit.