Day 100: Testing out a cow-hugging ruse

9 Dec

MARTIN’S got a plan, and it’s so outrageous, it just might work.

“I am reliably informed that there are people in Melbourne – Brighton, if we’re being specific – who will pay 600 bucks for a cushion, without $590 worth of cash or drugs in it,” he ruminates. “I’d like to promote cow-hugging as enhancement of human wellbeing. How much would they pay for that? Fucking heaps or the world’s gone mad.”

And it just so happens he’s got a small herd. Probably the happiest cows in the land, they stroll leisurely through acre upon acre of long grass, chewing cud and huddling sinisterly. I’ve always found cows sinister, anyway, which is why I’m the perfect person to test his new ruse.

Martin starts by dispelling some myths for me that I reckon other pea-brained urbanites would subscribe to: Horned cows are not all bulls; bulls don’t always charge (although his did charge right through the electric fence to get at some panting heifers); when cows lie down it’s a sign they’re regurgitating, not a sign of impending rain.

And how smart are they?

“They know how to be a cow,” he says, non-expansively.

For my hug I’m introduced to a sweet-natured Jersey cow, Madam, in what is a bit of an awkward moment. I know why I’m here; she seems to know why I’m here… first go on the new girl’s for free, but with any future dalliances there’ll be money changing hands.

Martin demonstrates how to hug Madam tightly from the side so that she can’t wriggle around, and she doesn’t protest too much. I climb the fence and wade over to embrace her barrel-like body. She’s just the right size, with a soft, short hide that’s eminently pattable, and a head like a giant anvil.

As I pat, she swings her curly horns violently towards me. “Gerroff,” is the subtext. And she only gets more irritated as the hugging progresses.

“She may need to be broken in a bit more,” I suggest of little Madam as I scoot back out through a gap in the fence to avoid being gored to death in the water trough, although Martin sticks to his story that she’s just after a friendly scratch between the ears. “I can almost guarantee she won’t gore you,” he says, skipping nimbly out of the way of a crotch-bound horn. “Not on purpose.”

To round off the Farmyard Friends famil, we take a walk through a few of Martin’s paddocks, where a bunch of Angus-Friesian cows are lounging around. Martin calls them over and, after some discussion, they come, making their way up from the valley.

Menacing, no?

As they huddle around us, a lark spirals out of the long grass and gives them a scare that turns to bovine fury as they take it out on Martin’s three-legged dog (a lot of the domestic animals around here seem to be listing).

I’m getting slightly nervous myself, with all the looming and staring going on. As we walk away I have to keep checking over my shoulder in case they’re legging it up behind me whenever my back’s turned.

Keeper? Definitely. More hanging out and I might even be able to grab the bull by the horns.

The paddock. It's like a near-death sequence in a film.

One Response to “Day 100: Testing out a cow-hugging ruse”

  1. busichic December 9, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    oh man, now I wanna hug a cow too!

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