Great Books of the World – Part 19

“Bailéro (Shepherd’s song of Auvergne hills) – Chants d’Auvergne” by Marie-Joseph Canteloube, performed by María Bayo and Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife (courtesy of J P Pedroso):

 

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift,
And the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors
The servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Albert Einstein

“Intermezzo” from “Cavalleria Rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni, performed by Hauser and the London Symphony Orchestra (courtesy of Hauser):

 

This week I cannot resist sharing the topic of my post with my readers. I think that you will agree it was worth taking a break from the books to find everything you didn’t know about the secret life of cows. It will make you smile – become happier in just five minutes!

I hope you will excuse me from not following the usual pattern of discussing books but this topic is too good to miss! Although as it happens, I can recommend a beguiling book “The Secret Life of Cows” by Rosamund Young.

 

Courtesy of BBC Reel:

It was reported that there is a new bizarre (not to me!) practice of cow hugging. Of course, it was invented as a result of the pandemic. As we were forbidden from cuddling other human beings, we began to look for comfort elsewhere.  In Holland, where the practice originated, they call cow hugging “Koe knuffelen.” In the US, farms are charging anything up to $75 per cow-hugging hour.

At the Mountain Farm in New York (shown above), visitors pay to hug cows called Bella and Bonnie.

Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary in Queen Creek, Arizona, also reported a boom. Owner Aimee told a reporter from the Washington Post that her nine cows, among them Moonicorn, who has only one eye and one horn, all love being cuddled by strangers. One visitor, Renee Behinfar, said that she cried when Sammy the cow lay her head in her lap and fell asleep. I suspect that I might cry too, if a 1,300 lb cow decided to have a nap on top of me, but Ms Behinfar insisted that hers were only tears of gratitude.

Scientifically, there are all sorts of biological reasons why cow hugging is good for us. It promotes positivity by boosting oxytocin, the hormone released in social bonding.

Courtesy of Kinder World:

 

I have empathy with all animals but unusually with cows which stems from my earlier experience when I was 15 years old. During my summer holidays, I would travel to a farm situated on top of a mountain and stay there for a few weeks every year. I loved to travel on the open carriage of the goods steam train because I could sit on the floor of an open platform and watch the passing landscape, while listening to the soothing sound of the steam and the wheels singing in unison.

The farmers, long-time friends, knew that first thing in the morning after arrival, I would take all the cows to their grazing field, and then clean up their shed. It meant washing the walls and the floor thoroughly, wiping it dry, and filling it with fresh straw. The cows would come back for milking and to the clean, straw-smelling shed. They slept well that night. I slept very well too, happily tired, and in the most comfortable bed, I have ever known. It was a big wooden bed with all the pillows and eiderdown so light and fluffy, you just wouldn’t know that they were there if you didn’t see them. There were the freshness and the faint scent of wood as the house was built of wood, although you would not realise this as the walls were rendered and painted white. The house was large and spacious, and my bedroom had the additional pleasure for me – the branches of an apple tree filling the open window.

During my stay, I learned many things about cows’ personalities, intelligence, and memory. At the farm, the cows had space and liberty, and because of this, their response was to reveal their true and lovely nature. It was obvious that they responded better because they were well looked after. I instinctively knew already that animals deserve our care, respect, and understanding, and I wasn’t surprised that the cows recognised this, and I was never hurt by anyone of them.

“Myfanwy” by Joseph Parry, performed by Sheku Kanney-Mason:

In one of my posts, I wrote about a herd of elephants who remembered the man who saved them from being killed and would come back to the compound every year on the anniversary of his death to mourn him in silence. During my holiday stay, I would witness amazing examples of my cows’ logical, practical intelligence.  The point I am making here is that animals living alongside us should be regarded as sentient creatures and not some inadequate servants of human beings.

One of the things that I have noticed during my weeks of observing the cows, was that if they were given the opportunity to be able to choose what to do during the day, for instance  – staying outside or coming in for shelter, or walking on grass or straw or concrete, or a choice of their food – they would always know and choose what was the best for them.  Cows are as varied in temperament and intelligence as people. Some can be highly intelligent, friendly, considerate, docile, inventive, and proud, others could be not so, the main thing is to treat them as individuals.

It is a well-documented fact that animals kept in cramped unfriendly conditions, and without the ability to move freely, would be badly affected in their development and behaviour. Stress can affect animals as well as humans, with similar consequences. The most important is that stress hormones reduce the efficiency of the immune system, which compromises the natural ability to resist parasitic infections.

“Scarborough Fair (Instrumental)” (courtesy of Crysantheme1):

Cows regularly seek out plants they sense they need. They pick up blackberries, various leaves  – hawthorn or willow, herbs – wild thyme and sorrel, even stinging nettles. But cows’ particular favourites are apples.

Many people assume that animals have no feelings, and they couldn’t be more wrong. It is enough to see the way cows respond to being cuddled even by strangers,  let alone people they know and like. They like the companionship of other cows too and, they love their calves like we love our children.

Being so intelligent, cows can work out what to do in many circumstances and are capable to ask for help when it is needed. The companionship is very much evident between cows and sheep. When writing about many aspects of cows’ personalities I have to mention their language of communication. Cows moo for various reasons: fear, disbelief, anger, hunger, or distress. Often, when it is a question, it would be a stare, followed by a quiet moo.

It was reported that the cows who have sustained an injury will eat a large amount of willow tree leaves to relieve the discomfort. We know that origin of aspirin came from the willow tree. They will eat the leaves for as many days as they need and then they stop. Another proof, if one was even needed, how intelligent cows are. Those who live with cows will confirm that part of their communication skills is the use of stare. By persistent staring at the person whose attention they want to attract, they get the reward, it could be food, especially apples, or some help with a problem in the field.

I have mentioned before that cows have a very good memory; they remember us as individuals, and that includes our faces. It is accurate as they notice our height, the way we walk, and even our voice. I noticed the same thing with all the wildlife in my garden, there even wasps and bumblebees come and ‘talk’ to me, not only as a greeting but when they need more sugar on the plate I provide for them in late summer. And, no I am not on ‘something’ or hallucinating, this is a fact, just ask Dr Dolittle. I am joking but only about the doctor, not about my close friendship with my wildlife. But back to the wonderful creatures, that the cows are. They recognised me, even after not seeing me for a year, and remembered that I would clean their house better than anyone else.

“Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds” by Michael Nyman:

 

As sheep are good companions to cows, I need to say that they too have accurate memory. It might seem to be an unnecessary thing to say that all animals respond to kindness, but as not all humans do (“No good deed goes unpunished”, Oscar Wilde), I can, from my experience, vouch for that kindness to any creature is returned tenfold. This is why cuddling is so much appreciated by cows. It is useful to always have a small brush to hand to do some grooming during this bonding session, it will be appreciated. Cows are not colour blind, so they recognise their young among many by looking for the one that, firstly, is the same colour, then on close inspection use their sense of smell. Their sense of smell is used in many ways in their daily life, but one thing is certain – cows don’t like anyone wearing perfume. The subtle changes in head movement, the tightening of the neck muscles, or relaxing, all are significant signs of the cow’s mood or intentions. Head is used in their communication to greet, accept, and recognise another, a new member of their group.

 

Please allow me to digress and finish on another positive benefit. Scientists proved that listening to birds singing or chirping not only boosted physical health but also mental wellbeing. Birdsong can have striking health advantages by combating stress and annoyance. The research looked at recordings from 251 sites across 66 US national parks and found that tuning into nature can decrease pain, improve mood and enhance cognitive performance. One of the scientists, Dr Rachel Buxton said: “The pandemic has emphasised the importance of nature for human health. As traffic has declined during quarantine, many people have connected with soundscapes in a whole new way, noticing the relaxing sounds of birds. How remarkable that these sounds are also good for our health. These sounds are beautiful. They deserve our protection.” The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I keep my Alexa switched on with a camera showing the back garden, and the sound of birds singing is so enjoyable that my writing seems to flow, and that is why so many readers like it!

“In Paradisum” from “Requiem” Opus 48 VII. by Gabriel Fauré, performed by Choir of King’s College, Cambridge (courtesy of KingsCollegeChoir):

 

48 thoughts on “Great Books of the World – Part 19

  1. I love your cow pictures. My husband likes to snuggle goats for the same reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cow cuddling – how delightful!!! This brings back fond memories of my grandfather’s farm. Thanks so much, Joanna! 🙂❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ~just a thought 26/11/2022 — 1:40 am

    I’m lucky to have been raised close to cows (and other creatures) and am enriched for it. Their comfort is so important to our own. I enjoyed your post so much, what lovely images you’ve gotten.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful essay. You have a deep love for our fellow creatures, and your writing shows this strongly. If there was a cow around, I’d like to give it a hug!

    Like

  5. Thank you, Neil, for your lovely comments! It made me smile!

    Your words are greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you so much for your kind comments! All greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Like

  7. Thank you so much for your lovely comments! How lucky to have early access to a farm, I never forgot

    mine!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Loved reading this dear Joanna. You have a beautiful and loving heart dear 🤗❤️🙏🏼 Here in our city, I rarely saw cows in some houses few times (I am from Trivandrum capital of Kerala, a state of India), but in my relatives’ houses in other districts of Kerala they had cows earlier, but now my aunts got old and they sold the cows. Here I communicate with birds, butterflies, plants, glow worms, stars and moon from the terrace garden.

    Like

  9. What a smashing post. This certainly lifted my spirits this morning. I totally agree with you about how animals can make you feel good, and it’s great to hear that we can make them feel good too.

    You’ve also included some fabulous pictures and videos which took me back to the days when I lived in the countryside. Just wonderful Joanna. Thank you for brightening up my weekend.

    Like

  10. A different but equally fascinating post! I’ve never hugged a cow, I’ve only stroked her. Maybe her bulk intimidates me a little. But I like doing it with my dog Sissi and with the cat who comes to visit me every day
    I also like listening to the song of the blackbirds that land in the trees near me, or the chirping of the sparrows. I confess that even when I hear the call of crows or magpies, I go out to feed them

    Like

  11. Thank you, Luisa for your wonderful comments! It is very gratifying to read how many people like engaging with nature. It makes my day, no, weekend! I also have two cats who visit every day, eat, sleep. And at night go home. Obviously, no one at home. I feed my birds all year round and I better not even start writing about my blackbirds or I will be here for hours.

    Thank you, Luisa, again, greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Malc, for such wonderful comments! I am so happy that you enjoyed the post as it is different from my usual book review.
    I did hope that those magnificent cows will make people uplifted, and of course, they did. Big hug all round!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh, how absolutely fabulous this post is Joanna. I spent ages last night going over and over the pictures, music, and links, and this morning I’ve shown my wife all of the lovely things this post contains. We even shed a few tears – happy tears – remembering our wonderful encounters with all of these wonderful creatures. Thank you so much, once again, for such a beautiful respite from the rigours of life.

    Like

  14. Thank you, Dear Peter and your wife, for such wonderful comments! It is astonishing how every reader loves the cows and the other creatures. I couldn’t be happier!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It is I who thank you for this beautiful answer and I wish you a happy weekend 🤗😘🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you!

    You are great!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What a warm, cuddly, happy post! Love all the cow stories and pics!

    Like

  18. This post is certainly different, but as lovable as earlier ones. Starting with Einstein’s quote, this post talks of holy cows, who are revered by us as mothers. You may remember, I had mentioned how my mom used to feed a cow, who would come to our house exactly at the same time in the evening. If someone was not there at the gate, she used to moo or even knock the door with her horns.

    I must say that cow is a gentle and the most friendliest animal. She doesn’t harm anybody, as your small video with a cock depicts. Whenever I see a cow, I feel like loving and touching her. During the covid period, I had also written about cow cuddling, though you have covered it in detail. But making it a business disheartens me.

    Your personal experience travelling to a farm is awesome. I had travelled many times via trains with steam engine. I agree with you that animals should not be regarded as our servants, and be kept in friendly conditions. I had read somewhere that while milking, playing music enhances milk output of cows, but unfortunately people are using oxytocin injections for this purpose.

    Thank you for telling that cows eat willow trees to get relief from pain. It’s new for me. Thank you also for revealing secret why your writings are liked by your readers, and finally for this beautiful presentation interspersed with interesting pictures and clippings.

    Like

  19. I was smiling ALL the way through this post. Thank you, Joanna, for bringing joy into this dreary damp and windy day! 🌹💓💌🙋‍♂️

    Like

  20. You know, of course, that I just love this post. I have a soft spot for a man who cuddles animals. Strangely although I have great affection for cows, I was terrified of them when I was a kid. Maybe they chased us because of my aunt’s dog that barked at them, or maybe just that they were so much bigger than me. Who cannot love an animal with such big soft eyes and long lashes. Cow cuddling…what a brilliant idea. Wonderfully put together. Oh, and I like Hauser too. I have seen him interviewed along with Luka Sulic. They are very funny and I love their sound. Thank you Joanna.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. What a delightful post, Joanna, and cows are just so cute. I’d love to hug one right now.

    Like

  22. Thank you, Lauren, for your delightful comment! Perhaps, it could be an idea for having one?

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank you, Carolyn, for your delightful comments! The cows seduced everyone! But you have so much land, one little cow would be wonderful for hugs and your photographic sessions!
    All you need are a box or two of apples…
    Thank you again, Carolyn, greatly appreciated your loving words.

    Joanna

    Like

  24. Thank you, Dear Ashley, for the wonderful comments but I cannot take credit for the work of the cute cows! Bur I am so glad that the spread so much happiness, judging by all the comments.

    Joanna

    Like

  25. Thank you, Kaushal, for such wonderful and interesting comments. Of cause, I remember your mother, one more reason why I revere her. We were assured that why people pay for cuddles, the money allows the cows good life, and they are free not to be with someone they don’t like. The presentation is all dawn to those delightful creatures.
    Thak you, Kaushal, again, greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thank you, so much Hirini, for your lovely comments. Perhaps, having cows on your land would be of interest?

    I will talk to you when I find the books, I am planning to look for them tomorrow.

    Joanna

    Like

  27. What’s next, Joanna? Matt Whyman’s The Unexpected Genius of Pigs? An excellent book that should be on every child’s bookshelf. 🙋‍♂️

    Like

  28. Always a pleasure, Joanna, you are welcome!

    Like

  29. Not as next but the thought crossed my mind as I love pigs.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Beautiful post with pleasant pictures n videos as always dear Joanna…hope you are doing ❣

    Like

  31. Thank you, Suma, for your kind comments. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  32. I think most civilisations or at least ours as I know it here in India were in love with cows so much that going beyond the feelings of her being an animal or even thoughts of eating them, they called them mothers. And truely they seem and act like one.

    The first image was an entry of its kind to this post. It also given an impressional as a semi autobiographical post of your days spent with the cows. I do remember from our conversation once, You had mentioned this. There is no doubt cows are best pets but they require that much care and attention. There mental and physical health is as important for the farmers who consume her milk daily.

    Its also important that you mentioned about her freedom to navigate and eat because here in India it is known, that cows are considered as a part of family. If the cow gets to know a person of the family is not well, she has the intelligence to look for that particular grass to eat in jungle, whose qualities then will get transffered to milk, which the man of the family will drink the next day. So it was always known in India about the intelligence and about her healing energies.

    I hope that life allows me and I CAN do more for the cows and other animals. This post is a testimony of your love and care towards all creatures, thank you.

    Thank you Joanna.

    Like

  33. Thank you, Narayan, for your analytical and kind comments. I mentioned that this special homage to cows should be shown to children at your school, not only for their amusement but to give them even more reasons to love and understand them. It would be wonderful if one day you were able to provide a place where some cows and other creatures could live happily and in peace.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thoroughly enjoyed this post, Joanna! I’m afraid we’ve lived too long in the city and have lost touch with our kind friends, like sheep and cows. From a distance passing by in a car, they look frightening because of their size. But now I’ll have to reassess my opinion. Your love for them is infectious. ❤️🙂
    ~ Dora

    Like

  35. I finally got to give your post the attention it needed and my heart is melting. thank you for sharing this lovely and beautiful sharing of cow hugging and the beautiful pictures Joanna! I loved it! ❣️

    Like

  36. Dear Cindy,

    Not knowing what you have just written, I wrote the same about your work!

    Thank you so much, Cindy, for your wonderful comments and for your time as you are working so much!

    It seems, judging by the comments, that the cows melted many hearts.

    Joanna

    Like

  37. I emphatically concur with all the thoughts you expressed about animals, and I enjoyed learning about your firsthand experience with cows. Though I haven’t had much contact with cows, I wasn’t at all surprised by your descriptions of their intelligence and emotional displays. We diminish ourselves as well as the animals by not recognizing what we might call their “humanity,”

    Like

  38. Thank you, Annie, for your wonderful comments! It makes me very happy to read a message from a likeminded reader. I will write more on the animal intelligence.

    Joanna

    Like

  39. Thank you, Eunice, for your kind comment. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  40. You are welcome.

    Like

  41. Very interesting post on cows Joanna, thank you for sharing. I cannot help but imagine how wonderful our world would be If humans also responded to kindness like the animals do.

    Like

  42. Thank you, Henrietta, for your wonderful comments! My thoughts

    exactly. Greatly appreciate your reading!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Your pictures are so engaging. Really beautiful! It makes you love cows! so sweet!! 😀

    Like

  44. Thank you so much for your delightful comments! Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    PS. Am I right to think that your name is Eva?

    Like

  45. Yes indeed! Are you working on a novel or some other delightful project?

    Like

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