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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cows Aren't As Dumb as You Think

Everyone thinks cows are stupid, but since I was 16 I’ve known they were much brighter than people give them credit for being.

Every hot July day I think of my sixteenth summer when I discovered that cows had at least some intelligence. Our family had moved onto Main Street earlier that year to an old home with a large lot that ran behind Morris Mercantile. (I will Blog about that move some other time, there was some adventure involved in that.) My Mom planted a large garden in the lot behind the store and that July we had quite a few watermelons ripening on their vines. My brothers and I kept asking Mom if we could pick a watermelon and see if it was ripe yet and day after day she kept telling us they weren’t ready. We must have about pestered her to death with our appeals to eat watermelon from the garden. The Merc had a great variety of junk food and candy to purchase, but at our house you wouldn’t find treats in the cupboards. The best cereal we ever had was Raisin Bran, we usually had soaked whole wheat or Zoom for breakfast. We rarely had ice cream and never popsicles in the freezer. Cookies or other treats sitting around for snacking was unheard of in my Mother’s very healthy house. That made the ripening watermelons even more appealing to us three kids.

Finally one day in July or perhaps it was August, my Mom announced that the next day we could pick a watermelon and eat it. We went to beds that night dreaming about deep red, juicy watermelon flesh dripping with refreshing sweetness. I pictured us sitting under the trees in our yard enjoying the best summer treat known to mankind.

The next day as we got started with our chores (we still had a chicken coop full of chickens—that is part of the moving story I will share another time), suddenly a wail of anguish shattered the quiet morning air. Jim came running in shaking with anger. He was trying to tell us something, but could only gesture and jabber unintelligibly. He got us to follow him out to the garden where our beautiful watermelon patch was now nothing but a few teeth-marked rinds and hoof prints smashing the vines and leaves of the plants into juicy mud. The neighbor’s cows had pushed over the fence to get to our watermelons on the exact day they were ripe enough to eat. Those cows had been on the other side of the fence from our garden for months without making any attempt to break through, but somehow they knew when the watermelons would be at their most deliciousness and waited until the very day they were deemed to be ripe to break in and steal them. There has to be some intelligence involved to be that devious, that mean, that conniving.

I only lived in that house for a couple of years before going away to college, but I never looked at those cows on the other side of the fence in the same way. I always thought they were listening and learning and devising more dastardly schemes to make our lives miserable.

Years after college and living away from Hinckley I considered that it was very odd that you could live on Main Street and still have cows (very devious, watermelon eating cows) for neighbors.


Tina said...

What a cute story! I had something like that happen here in my garden. Just as I decided my corn crop was "just right" to eat I stepped out my door to go harvest the ears for our dinner and what did I see? Every ear was husked down to the bottom (still on the stalk) and every juicy kernal of corn was gone! Either our squirrels or some other four legged creature got to them before us! I haven't had the heart to plant corn since! Yes, these animals are uncomminly canny that way!

Dean and Sheri said...

I enjoy reading your posts so much. And once again...I envy your childhood. Well, all except the going without sweet juicy watermelon part. We ate "cracked wheat" cereal too when I was a kid. I despised it, but ya know what? Dean and I have it at least a couple of times a week for breakfast. There is some waiting for me at this very moment! If you'd asked me when I was a kid if I'd eat it when I grew up I would have told you "NO WAY"...and then I grew up.

Jim Shumway said...

Thanks for the story Georgia. I still hate those cows! They looked decidely fatter after that incident, which only made me hate them more. By the way, I had Apple Jacks for breakfast this morning...because I could!