Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Molly, Owen share Aggie pride

Don't tell proud Texas Aggie Owen Robinson of Boots and Sabers, but he and radical, ribald, rabble-rousing Molly Ivins are now fellow alums. I'll let Molly tell it:

I know it's bad form to brag, but I am now a graduate of Texas A&M University, and you can't stop Aggie pride. I became a diplomee of the great institution in College Station after successfully completing the three-day short course in beef cattle this summer. I specialized in forage management and graduated "Quel fromage!" meaning "avec distinction."

It is also true that I was banned from the campus of Texas A&M many years ago after some students invited me to make a political speech. Also Quel Fromage! So you see how far we have all come.

The most amazing part of cow college was meeting the cow whisperer. Think of everything you know about moving cattle from one place to another -- for shots, round-up or loading into trucks for market -- just physically moving a lot of cattle. GEE, GIT ON, GO DOGIE, whistle, whip crack, move 'em out, chase 'em down. Turns out all these years we've been doing it wrong.

What happens when you scare a cow by making a lot of noise and chasing it down and forcing it to move where it doesn't want to go is the cow responds by relieving itself. And since a cow has three stomachs, it can unload up to 20 percent of its total weight at one go, the last thing you want just before you take it to market to sell.

So the latest thing in cattle handling is cow whispering (I'm not making this up -- this is straight from A&M). Either on foot or horseback, you just kind of sidle around your herd without upsetting them, talk to them gently and suggest they might like to go THAT way for a while, and then perhaps a tour along the pen line, and then perhaps some consideration of the gate and another little tour of the pen line. But all of this is done without loud noise, sudden movements or eruptions of testosterone. It's such a revolutionary development of an American macho tradition it's a little like watching NFL teams come onto the field in tutus. But it also works a lot better on the cows.
If you want to know about Cow Whisperers Against the War, read the rest here.


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