Cattle in the Field

One last post of photos from Ohio. (The one in today’s post was actually taken by my dad. I may have cropped it, but that’s all the credit I can claim 🙂 ) Although I’ve been back for a few weeks now, I’ve been very busy catching up on work. I had intended to put up this post on my last evening at my parents’ house. But we needed a really early start the next morning for our drive up to Milwaukee, so between packing for the trip and trying to get a decent night’s sleep, I didn’t.

Up on the hill behind my mom and dad’s home is a field where a neighbor grazes cattle. Being a city girl, I am pretty fascinated by the proximity of livestock to their patio. I like to sit outside and drink my coffee while watching them, sort of the way I’d sit on a dock on a quiet lake Up North watching loons or maybe on a pier at the ocean watching the seagulls.

A few observations on bovine behavior:

Their young are clearly “young.” The really small calves stay close to mom, and when they stray too far away, their mother starts to bellow in distress. Maybe because she’s worried? Or her udder is too full?

The older calves seem to pal around with each other, racing down the hill and then gamboling together like puppies—whirling, feinting, pouncing, and just having a grand time.

Until, as my dad phrased it, the day comes when suddenly those youngsters are 800 pounds on skinny legs and have to eat all day to keep themselves going.

The grazing is relentless. The entire herd seems to move as one unit, consuming its way from one end of the field to the other, where it then turns around and launches its voracious collective appetite in the opposite direction. And grazing is loud. These animals don’t nibble. They tear the grass from the ground with a decisive ripping noise. From far away, you’d never guess how violent sounding that peaceful tableau of cattle on a hillside actually is.

Shortly after I got home, the video below appeared in my feed after one of my friends liked it on Facebook. Watching it reminded me of those young cows playing in the field behind my parents’ house.

And seeing it right after my week of watching cattle so closely, I began to wonder whether cows actually have more personality than I ever previously guessed. The answer is yes.

There are lots more videos like this on YouTube, plus videos of cows navigating staircases, activating latches to open doors and gates, pushing levers to turn on water faucets, and best of all snuggling up against their favorite humans and closing their eyes in pleasure to savor a chin scratch.

Kinda makes me want to rethink the whole hamburger thing.


About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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3 Responses to Cattle in the Field

  1. mworfolk says:

    I loved the video of Diane’s happy cow!

    Your last sentence is exactly what I was thinking while I was reading your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sally Cissna says:

    I just love it that you posted about cows, Katie! Being a farm girl for the first 13 years of my life and continuing to do chores and haying at my sisters house through out my teens when I was there, I really like cows. My sisters book that I self-published for her “Fishing for Happiness” by Maryon Range is about a woman who wants a Brown Swiss Dairy. In one chapter, one of her favorite cows dies and she is faced with the emotion of losing a friend and the problem of getting rid of a very large cow body. It’s available on You might enjoy it.


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