It was morning, and the mist was so heavy I couldn't find the cows.
Trudging across the road, coffee mug in hand, I made my way down the lane to the cow pasture, feeling like I was walking through a scene in The Princess Bride. I would have been only slightly surprised to see knights on horses galloping up behind me.
There is certainly something peaceful and pleasant about early morning on the farm, and I think a lot of that has to do with routine. I pull on my boots and leave my phone inside, all the better to notice the wonders around me -- the chirpings and rustlings of animals with enough determination to be up that early, the hazy pink of the sun, the willowy scent of heavy dew. This has been the routine of summer.
So I didn't mind walking to get the cows, but I did wonder where they were when I rounded the bend in the lane and saw nothing through the mist.
These cows have their routine, as well, which for the most part they good-naturedly comply with.
Cresting a hill, I finally found the herd on the other side. They were still lounging in their bed of grass. I almost hated to disrupt their peaceful scene and herd them in to milk, but girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.
A three-year-old once taught me how to call cows in German. Everyone has their way of talking to them. Liz calls them loudly and boldly, with unmistakable authority. Jake's call is more easygoing. I can hear Heidi in my head, saying, "Keep it moving!" in her usual way. I like to call them by name; I feel it's more personal.
"Wake up, Evelyn. Get up, Effie. Come on, Sassy." I don't bother with the German.
When you think about the life span of a cow, it varies so much depending on their environment. A cow living in the fresh outside air and not being milked constantly will have a longer life than a commercially-raised cow. When you're talking about beef, well, sure, it takes longer to grow an animal on a grass-fed diet. In the long run, however, you're preserving your soil's health and giving yourself a healthier option that could, and likely will, save you health concerns in the future. Does the end result make the slower process worthwhile? I am learning that it does.
What that looks like in reality is a herd of cows, romping through the pasture on a misty morning, miffed with their herdswoman who is making them show up for work while pretending she is Princess Buttercup in a long flowing gown.
We say our cows are happy cows -- now, they don't speak English any more than they speak German, so I can't tell you verbatim, but I would bet this to be true.