As Cows Go By

Hardly a day goes by but when I walk beyond Laundress Green I see cows. And that is a lot to do with why I walk that way. I am ready to photograph them because they are alive and interesting and make nice graphic shapes with the contrasting colours in their bodies.

I think even without lockdown I would wander that way. But with lockdown there isn’t an awful lot going on – and cows munching without a COVID care in the world takes my mind off things.

I see they have their own version of oppression, needing to keep on eating. Munch, munch all the time. Their bodies are built with their necks and heads near the ground. They can hardly lift their heads much above horizontal without an effort.

Do they see it that way? Do they think about it? Do they lament that their noses are deep in the grass filling their vision? Or are they content with their lot?

Yesterday, maybe it was the air, or the temperature, or the breeze carrying away the noise of traffic in the distance – who knows – but when the cows were close by me I could hear so clearly that lovely crisp tearing sound as they ate grass.

And the sound brought to mind the reason or one of the reasons for the wars between cattle ranchers and sheep farmers in the American West. It’s entirely possible that some character spelled it out in one of the many Westerns I saw on TV as a boy. But if they did, I didn’t hear it.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned the reason for the enmity, and it’s down to this. Cows twist and pull and sheep nibble.

Sheep have a lower set of teeth, and no teeth in the top jaw. Instead they have a hard upper palate. They eat grass by cutting it. Their bottom teeth snip off the grass against the anvil of their upper palate. And they can cut the grass very short.

Cows wrap their tongues around the grass and pull. The grass doesn’t have to be very long, but it has to be longer than the length left by sheep after eating. Hence the cattle versus sheep wars in the American West.


Curly hair and straight hair. They are not all the same.


  1. writemeow says:

    When my husband was in the seminary, they had to learn public speaking. One of the practice sentences they used, for articulation, was: «how now brown cow» 😊 That came to mind when I saw these pictures.

    Interesting to read about the difference how cows/sheep cut grass.


    1. That phrase is said here when we are poking fun at ‘correct English’. Actually, I don’t know how many people know it now. It might be a bit dated.

      What does it mean to you?

      I think of it as something along the lines, of – ‘What is going on in your life at the moment, dear cow?’


      1. writemeow says:

        Yes, that’s how I think of it.

        He’s mentioned it before, but when we moved here — this part of the city is named Fort Howe — so then we said it more often; ‘Howe now’ 😊

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.