Blackie and the ugly cow in the mirror

Blackie was black, indeed she was so black that in sunlight she had a reddish shine, my first and grand old lady of my heard of Scottish highlanders Cows. Together with BrowniePortrait of a Highland cow sleeping. she was brown of course, light brown, almost yellow in the sunshine. Spending time with the Highlander cows, are sunshine times, I really love them, their nature, their behaviour, they can be playful, and serious, and they show their feelings to you.

Blackie was the one I used to raise calves and even a small ram, that needed a mother. I could take any calf, show it up under her udder, milk a few drops into the empty stomach, and Blackie would accept the new one as one of her own. She had her own calf every year, but would any poor creature that needed motherly care, she was there. I hate these situations, it is life or death for the poor one, the mother is dead or does not recognize the offspring, it must have warm milk many times a day to survive, it is such a treat when a cow accept the lost animal. I also milked her, after birth, to freeze antibiotic milk for needing animals; puppies, squirrels, lamb and others got a good start in life from her milk.

Blackie was a naturally born leader, she took the bell around her neck with pride, the bell were of Swiss make, solid cast brass, tuned, actually very pleasant to hear, instead of the cheap copper cow bells. She led the small flock like it were her troops, none complained about her role, they were all followers. Highlanders are not cozy, they are extremely independent.

Every year I breed the cows with a different bull, I newer had a bull of my own, more that a year. One year I found a white Charolais bull, magnificent animal, most of the calves were white Highlanders with horns, I kept the best for future breeding. After a few years I had a few almost pure white, longhaired, long-horned highlanders.

Moving to Sechelt I brought about 15 with me, I rented five miles of hydro power line between Roberts creek and Sechelt, fine pasture all year. I also had a few horses, and a bunch of sheep. They all eat different fauna, and the area benefitted from the pasture and fertilizing. All winter I brought in hay, mostly local, with the seed in the hay bales, the pasture was re-seeded to become really good pasture. sprinkling whole grain on the hay bales, was a treat, and they seeded and re-seeded, nice for birds, rabbits and even black bears. The bears newer bothered any of my animals. Blackie made sure of that.

Blackie could snarl like a bull, being the toughest of them all, she had to behave like a bull sometimes. May be she was a little butch ? She certainly had control over her flock. Whenever the flock were on a place they were not supposed to be, all I had to do, was to have a bucket with grain, wave the bucket and yell to Blackie, and she would bring the small herd back to their pasture.

The main problem was, there were several logging roads crossing the pasture, with wooden or bar wire gates. Tourist never understood that the gates must be closed, and whenever opened, the cows would wander to their favorite places, the horses to theirs, and the timid sheep would not dare to go outside their territory.

For the cows, the Airport in Sechelt was the favorite place. The asphalt strip was warm, and the grass around untouched. After feeding, they would walk to the runway, lay down, and chew their cud. That is when I got a call, usually at 4 or 5 in the morning, get your f….. cows off the strip so we can land. I was only a few minutes away, no accidents occurred, only incidents.

One of the helicopter pilots was a good friend, he had his own ways, a loud horn , and he used it often, the cows knew that signal. get the hell away from here, and they did. Just down on the Field Road is the BC Hydro nice new office. A perfect lawn in front, lots of flowers, greens, reflecting a successful co. The building reflects money, lots of huge mirror glass panes, the working stations with the expensive computers, clearly visible inside.

At 4 AM I got the call, and hour later I found them; it was a perfect picture. About 15 cows and calves, all laying down on the nicest lawn in Sechelt, some in the rose beds. All except Blackie, she was standing in front of the big mirror window. She was furious. I have never seen a bullfight, but I have seen furious bulls, this was equal.

I jumped out of my pick up and grabbed the bucket of oats, some of the others were interested, and got up and towards me, but Blackie was snarling at the ugly cow in the mirror. She had newer before seen herself in a mirror. For the first time she saw a cow, as though and bad as she was.

I can envision things, a good and bad ability. This time I could see Blackie getting so mad at the cow in the mirror, that she would chase at her, break the windows, all the others would follow her into the pristine office interior. The office landscape would not have a chance, it would be totally destroyed in a few minutes, fifteen cows, 60 legs trampling all over; lots of blood from the cut glass, wires and telephone cords snagging the frantic animals; it would be a horror show.

I was shaking, this whole scenario was no good. I walked up to Blackie, rest of the flock following me. She did not notice me at all. In the mirror glass was the worst case scenario, an ugly,  bossy cow, she had never seen before. It was touch and go. It could go both ways. I got between Blackie and the mirror glass. She could take me by her horns, drive me through the glass like a projectile, and bring the rest of the flock inside.

She got the bucket of oats in front of her nose a few times, and I was shading her from the ugly black cow in the mirror, oats are nice in the morning, for anybody, especially a cow. She took interest in the bucket, I got her turned around, the whole scary scenario was over, she followed the bucket to the trail back to the pasture where they would be left in peace.

Back onto the pasture there were no treats from a new big ugly black cow, only her flock, and they were all followers.

When ready to calf, some cows come home. close to or in the barn, to calf. Highlanders are different, They hide, and hide their calves. Round and fat, ready to calf one day, and slim and trim, with huge udders the next. I am good at tracking animals, but I never found the hiding places of their calves. After a week or so, they bring them out, proud as can be, the nicest calves you ever see.

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