“The Cows Are In”


[MAY2023] That’s a saying I came up with years ago in my second or third spring living here. The property at Off-Grid Retreat is 50 acres of varied woodlands, but it is surrounded by farms and this is an agricultural township I live in.

Some of the farms grow crops, while others provide large swaths of pasture for cattle to roam. It’s a pretty good life for livestock to have loads of space and unlimited grasses to munch on. Every spring, usually in the first half of May, I start hearing the familiar sounds of cows in the neighbouring fields.

Now, when I say “cows” I am showing my city-person (well, suburb-person to be more precise) roots. It didn’t take long after moving in here until a neighbour, who I had started playing cards with, kindly and patiently explained to me that a cow is a type of cattle, as are heifers, steers, bulls and calves. (Which is not even to mention all the specific breeds!) I won’t define them here… you can look it up if interested… just be aware that the generic term “cow” is used differently by city folks than by rural folks who know what they’re doing.

And while us city folks associate “cows” with the sound “moooo”, if you’re visiting Off-Grid Retreat anytime from late spring through early autumn you are likely to be surprised by the variety of sounds cattle make. Again, thanks to kind neighbours patient with my farming questions, I am getting to recognize what some of the calls are likely to indicate (e.g., calf, come find me). If you have questions while you’re staying, feel free to ask and I will share my newfound rural knowledge. Or make something up 😉

An interesting factoid:If cattle is the plural term, what do you call a single animal if not “cow”. Well, to get specific and proper, it is a cattle-beast. I’ve seen it used in the local paper, though I don’t know that I have ever heard someone use the term is speaking.