My mother is afraid of cows. This is more of a problem than you might think since her father was a dairy farmer. When she was in primary school, she used to sit on the gate post until some kind passing soul would take her down and walk up the drive with her keeping her safe from marauding cows. I sometimes think that this might be part of the reason why she so enjoyed boarding school when she went. She was safe from the cows. She always said that she worked harder than us in school because she had more of an incentive “I knew, if I didn’t mind my lesson, I wouldn’t go to college and I would have to marry a farmer”. Her objection, you understand, was not to farmers per se but the farms that came with them. When we were small, I can remember going on a picnic and cows turning up in the field. My mother fled leaving her defenceless family to the mercy of the bovine invaders. I remember my father treacherously carrying me up to pat a cow on the nose saying “nice moo-cow”.
All this is by way of background. In the Irish Times a while ago, there was an article on feral cows. Apparently some unfortunate woman was set upon by her herd and killed. The article pointed out that bulls get a bad press but cows can be every bit as dangerous (cetainly trying to recast the villains there – a bit like John Waters and domestic violence). I spoke about it to my mother.
Her: I’m not a bit surprised that woman was attacked. She went out at twilight with a dog.
Me: At twilight?
Her: Cows are at their most dangerous at twilight.
Me (suppressing a snigger): Mooing at the moon and all that.
Her: Well, with all this factory farming, they’re not used to people any more. Mind you, they were always dangerous.
Me: Er, were they?
Her: I remember my mother going across the fields to visit Houlihans and encountering a herd of cows on the way back who chased her up the tree.
Me: No, really, what happened?
Her: She stayed there until your grandfather thought she’d been gone a long time and went out to look for her and drove off the cows.
Ramblers beware, you heard it here first.