Whitesburg KY

Cows, birds give hope that spring’s coming

The muse of the day is cattle. Points East

I love few things more than watching calves and steers meandering in the pastures and going about the business of eating grass and fattening up to be steak and hamburger. But we humans have to eat something, and beef is pretty good if it’s cooked right. (I like mine rare. A ribeye steak is done enough for me if it is not wiggling or saying mooooo.)

Yesterday the temperature got up to 47 here in the valley. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time that we have been above the normal high since well before Thanksgiving. We are having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave, as Walter Matthau sang so cheerfully in ‘Grumpy Old Men’.

My neighbor’s herd of Angus and Herford steers, who have long been camped under some trees on the farthest edge of the back 40 waiting for delivery of big round bales of timothy and alfalfa, decided to venture forth and graze upon dead chicory stalks and on the orchard grass and fescue that stubbornly refuse to concede to snow and bitter cold.

There are between 25 and 30 head in the herd, all in the 500 pound range, and they look amazingly healthy given the weather we’ve had this winter. Sunday was the first time I’d seen them up close and personal in many weeks. They wandered about, right up to the fence that separates my back yard from the pasture and they paid me no more mind than they would a field mouse or the devil starlings that follow them about waiting to chow down on the next bowel movement.

Needless to say that when the starlings have had their fill, they fly in droves over my place and redeposit the cow poop on our rooftops and automobiles. They do this just to taunt me because they know I hate them. Or perhaps they are in cahoots with some carwash owners where business has been slow.

But I could not bring myself to be much perturbed by the flying rats because there is something very pleasant about watching cattle graze and standing so close by that I can hear them contentedly munching and swishing their tails to drive away imaginary flies. It was a very peaceful experience and I do so hope that it is a harbinger of spring.

As I watched the cattle, a pair of eastern bluebirds flitted around the premises to check out the half dozen or so boxes that I’ve purchased from 4-H kids over the years and mounted on fence posts all around. However they seemed much more interested in an old locust fence post that seems to have a more inviting knothole than anything the kids have yet contrived.

Surely, I am thinking to myself, happy cattle and industrious bluebirds must be signs that warm weather will soon be with us. Heaven knows that I am way more than ready for it.

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