Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Just like us, really


" The more rules a society has, the more deviant characters it produces, and the same goes for cows. The grids and turntables of the modern [milking] sheds necessitated the cows walking through in the same order each time, and some were unable to get used to this, even after weeks of training.

The cow that would not tow the line was the same cow who used to scratch itself on the gate, or lick the farmer's trouser leg. The farmer would give the beast a smack on the horns to push it away, half-chastising, half-affectionate. Now I heard formers referring to them as useless cattle and they had them put down. "

From An Island in Time: the biography of a village by Geert Mak.

6 comments:

liliannattel said...

Oh, I identify with the non-conforming cow. That's sad.

Jean said...

Me too, Lilian, deeply ;-(

Rachel Fox said...

Very depressing...

bcmeng said...

so brutally true...

marja-leena said...

Oh yes, too sad.

The book also seems to have strong connections to your recent post "Vaches". Were you reading it before you wrote it?

Jean said...

I just removed my earlier response to these comments, because I realised it sounded like I thought we shouldn't be depressed about the way cows are now treated, but only take this story as some comfort for our own fate.

Not what I meant at all of course! Modern farming horrifies me. Much of modern life horrifies me. But striking fragments of writing like this also drive home important points and perhaps, in pointing out the bigger picture, help us to forgive ourselves for our own struggles and inadequacies.

I started reading this book, by chance, when I was already looking for that old blog post about France for the blog carnival.