Baxter Black: Working mothers

Pam and I were having a deep discussion on cow psychology. Subjects such as horn envy, chuteaphobia, the empty nest syndrome at weaning time and unsightly hair on udders. Then she brought up a subject that I have wondered about myself, even as a cross-species problem; females working together in a tight community.

We all know the tension that occurs when you put a new mare into the herd, or buy a new blue heeler bitch and bring her home to meet the other dogs, or put six mothers of second-graders in a small room with the objective of picking out new school colors.

Then she brought up, how does a herd of ranch cows decide which one will stay back with the little calves to babysit while the rest of the mama cows go to water? Pam has been studying on this cow behavior for years. She has never seen them drawing straws, flipping a coin or trying to guess the number of dewclaws hidden behind their back. So, she concluded it must be a more cerebral consideration. She assumed since they have no written language that they didn’t take turns. Still, the babysitter d’ jours seem to be chosen at random. If we could speak “cow” we might hear a conversation like this,

“Who else is thirsty?”

“Me! Me! My! My! Moo! Moo!”

“Well, somebody needs to stay here in the nursery.”

“How ‘bout you, Long Toe. It’s your turn.”

“What’s a turn?” Nobody knew.

“I’ve taken care of that little monster of yours. He doesn’t mind me, just keeps stirrin’ up the babies.”

“Of course! That snooty little heifer of yours just keeps teasin’ him! Besides, I need a break.”

“From what? A break from what! All you do is sit around graze.”

“Oh, I’ll do it,” said Crooked Horn, “I’m just tired of your incessant mooing.”

“I’m not going to leave my sweet little baby with you!”

“Me neither! You’re not a good mother, you give any of them a drink that wants it!”

“If you were a better milker your scrawny runt wouldn’t be hungry all the time!”

“Pipe down, you hussies! Hey? Where did everybody go?”

Pam has decided it’s nature’s way of separating the argumentative from the thirsty.

I asked her what she meant.

“You wouldn’t understand,” she said.

I asked her if this has anything to do with working mothers.

“Don’t even go there,” she said.