You may be like me, wondering where our country is headed with a new leadership change and a worldwide pandemic. Maybe you were excited for the appointment of the new Commander In Chief or disappointed that a re-election did not occur. Maybe you are voting in the California Recall election or you may think it is a waste of time. Despite all of the mixed feelings in this country and the state of California, there is something that occurred to me on a drive lately: Americans could learn a thing or two from beef cattle.
I know it sounds out there… cattle teaching us things. We are at the top of the food chain, aren’t we? But if there is one thing I know for certain, only our willingness to learn and change helps us to actually change. As I drive along the hills of Highway 180, I see the dotted blur of beef cattle along various property lines. Some are black, some are white, and some are a mix of who knows what. Being from a ranching family, I know the difference between beef cattle breeds but here’s a quick run -down. Black are usually Angus, White are usually Charolais, and Brown or Red with white faces are Herefords or Shorthorn.
It’s easy to get discouraged about where our country has been headed lately but why should we look to the cattle of our country? Why NOT? Beef cattle are very resilient, just like America was in World War Two, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11 to name a few instances. Speaking of resiliency, cattle can travel miles for water and lead others to safety that may not be in the same age, sex, or breed category as their own herd. They can also be moved from place to place, adapting quickly to their surroundings and proving that they deserve an honorable mention in the animal kingdom. Cattle can also sustain injuries and hurt better than their human counterparts, something that we all could work on.
Cattle do not care about politics unless it comes to feeding time. They will help others find food by relaying a large call and follow one another until most reach the feed bunk, pasture, or water source. They do not allow any of the herd to be left behind and call each other to unity in one task no matter what the circumstances. These creatures do so in all climates, counties, and continents except Antarctica. Americans have driven a wedge between themselves over countless issues, but none of them seem to be as simple as the feed pecking order, protection from predators, or rearing calves.
Cattle have an amazing ability to be both gentle and firm when they need to be. The best example I have of this includes a cow I love from my own herd. She is a stand-alone in our herd because she is the oldest cow and also the most unique, a Charolais in a sea of Black Angus. Her name is Large Marge (“Margie”) and she is known for being very gentle and a decent mother. Although she is very docile, I know that her instincts are stronger than her desire to be nice to the one who feeds her. I know this full well because just last week my dog Steve got in-between Margie and her new bull calf and she got stern quickly. With one swift motion of the head, she backed us away and stood her ground without hurting anyone. Although my dog was not hurt during this encounter, this is just another example of how livestock can stand their ground without a large protest, shouting, signs, or large groups of people. If one cow can protest peacefully, why can’t we?
So why compare cattle to humans? It’s simple, we are both creatures living on the same planet and experiencing similar conditions such as climate (political or in Fahrenheit), hunger, a need for protection, and a need for a stable environment. You may be checking off the boxes with me… yes, I need to be comfortable in my climate, yes, world hunger is an issue, and yeah, it would be nice to have a more stable environment. I challenge you to think like a beef cow. Protest peacefully, help lead others to food and shared resources, and protect your herd at all costs.
Cattle have a way of teaching me patience. They tend to move either too fast or slow, and they never seem to listen when I tell them not to go into the fence while I’m moving them from pasture to pasture. They are driven by instincts and groupthink, but not the same groupthink we experience. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, groupthink is “a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics”. Our country was built on rugged individualism, so why group ourselves by political party, economic status, or race?
Cows demonstrate a need for community that we have not seen for a while in this country. They do not like to be separated from their original herd but yet the adapt fairly seamlessly to their environment. Just like us, they raise families and teach them what is acceptable and what is not.
In Psychology of Cows by L. Merino and K. Allen, states that “most people have a difficult time relating to cows on their own terms, that is, without the biases created by social and economic utility.” Cattle are more like us than we think, they have all five senses and rely primarily on their vision. They also exhibit “Spatial cognition (which) refers to the ability to acquire knowledge of, remember, organize and utilize information about spatial aspects of (their) environment.”
That being said, cattle are so much more competent and inspirational than society has made them out to be. Next time you pass a herd of cattle, just remember to take a moment and observe them. Reset your mindset and remember to follow the example of the beef cattle.
Note: Jackie Taylor is the Social Media Director for WaterWrights.net and can be reached at email@example.com
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