Sunday, February 8, 2009


Recently, I was out for a leisurely jog on a crisp Saturday afternoon around the outskirts of Victoria, when I happened by a farm...a very large farm with a very large red barn.  As I bounced past the big red building, I started thinking about the various kinds of animals that might live on this farm.  Then, being somewhat ADD with respect to my thought process, I also started to think about community, particularly some of the ideas that have been put forward on this masterpiece of a blog.  Next, taking my thought process to an even stranger and more ADD place, I started thinking about animals and community.  More specifically, I asked myself, "is there anything that we can learn about communities from animals...from farm animals?"  I thought about this as I continued to jog along (now well beyond the farm's outer boundary), and I came to the conclusion that, yes, in fact, it just might be possible...

Let us take cows for example.  Upon closer analysis of the everyday activities and interactions of cows, it seems that we can actually learn a few key lessons about community (quel surprise!).  Allow me to explain further via the following points...

1) Power in numbers - let's think about the power of one cow vs. power of many cows (e.g. should that cow/those cows choose to chase someone or something, should that cow/those cows attempt to push over a fence, should that cow/those cows choose to mow-down a field of grass, etc.etc.).  Clearly, cows "get it" - they have greater influence on their surroundings when more of them band together to achieve a cause.  Think about it.

2) Communication - ever wonder why, when one cow starts to moo, the rest also seem to have something to "moo" (like "say" but for cows)?  Believe it or not, it is because cows are communication specialists.  We may not understand what they are "saying" to one another, but we can clearly see that they work hard to discuss something of importance to the entire group (perhaps best location to seek out clean H20, most promising grazing patch for the day, etc.?).  Most importantly, the group usually does not make a move once every cow has had at least one chance to "moo" its view.  

3) Lookin' out for one another - sometimes, when cows are hangin' out in the fields, they swat flies away from their cow friends with their tails.  There appears to be an underlying understanding that, if one cow sees a fly that is out of reach for their cow friend, that cow will take care of the situation on behalf of its buddy.

4) Accepting of new things - when you approach a cow and it looks at you, it does so in a very non-judgmental way.  Even if they are a bit frightened of the different-looking stranger standing in from of them (perhaps they even balk a little...), eventually they will come closer for a look and maybe even to hang out a little.  After a while, the initial fright turns into a curiosity, and finally, an acceptance.  Way to embrace difference, cows.

There is probably much more that we can learn from cows, and perhaps as well from other creatures.  For the purposes of this thought experiment, though, we can clearly see that cows seem to know what's up when it comes to community.  They get each others' backs, they can clearly communicate with one another, and they know how to effectively incite change.  Not bad, cows.  Not bad at all.  Turns out, "ideas from everywhere" can even include the farmyard.  Mooooo!



John Horn said...

This article further fanned the flames of my fantastic and amazing paranoia of cows. I always suspected that they were up to something, and now I have "proof"!

Thanks, Kim. Thanks for tipping the cows off to our collective knowledge of their sophisticated cowmoonity. It's only a matter of time, now, before they strike!

Godfrey von Nostitz-Tait said...

Building on these reflections of bovine menace and lockstep devotion to perhaps overthrowing us all...did you know that they usually stand facing either magnetic south or north. Creepy? Or just another example of building community cow-style?

It's monday morning so that might make no sense, but might get you chewing a bit of mental cud nonetheless, gumbooters!