Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Slice of Cows and Poetry

I was doing a bit of Internet research yesterday for some poetry I’m working on.  I like to read articles and find out as much as I can before embarking on new writing topics.
While I was puttering around on the Internet, I came across the horrific story of children’s author, Babette Cole, author of Princess Smartypants.
On June 15, she was out walking her two terriers in a field, when cows with their calves approached.  The cows attacked her and her dogs, appearing to be attempting to kill her and the dogs, perhaps seeing them as a threat to their calves.
A man and woman were looking at a nearby house that was for sale, and they then decided to walk the land. The cows in the neighboring field seemed to be in some sort of commotion, so they looked over the fence, in time to see a dog hurtle through the air.  Looking down, they discovered Babette severely injured and bleeding.  The couple rescued her and she was flown to a hospital where she spent a week recovering from broken ribs, bruises and cuts requiring stitches.
Here is a link to the story:

This was a disconcerting story, and only goes to prove that no matter how cuddly and cute animals look, they are still animals, with animal instincts... and no remorse.

I may have to wait to continue my research and writing for today.  I’ve been put off a bit by this incident.  But this did come out of it, as I pondered the thoughts of the cows later that day.  And I got out my new set of watercolors, and bravely attempted a watercolor of a brown cow after searching through 50 or so pictures of cows online.  It's funny how you can know what a cow looks like right up until the minute you want to draw one, or paint one.
It's also funny how one little sidestep on a path can take you to an entirely different place than you were headed, but gets you somewhere interesting nonetheless.

Bought some watercolors last week...my first cow painting...
When the Cows Came Home

When the cows came home
they shuffled inside
lined up in the barn
and mooed and sighed,
And waited for corn
as they did every day,
And gave no hint
of going astray.
Their moos were the same,
Their tails slapped at flies,
And if you could ask them
They'd tell you no lies.
They had been naughty
though they didn’t know it;
they'd just done "whatever" -
their eyes didn’t show it -
no remorse nor guilt,
no heads hung in shame,
nor were they arrogant
after playing their game.
They were just cows -
cows doing their thing.
Just cud-chewing cows,
taking a swing
at anything threatening
their family’s contentment;
yet even still holding
no sign of resentment.
There are no bad cows -
there's only perception;
There’s always a reason -
though perhaps misconception -
So when cows come home
and have nothing to say,
you can try as you will, to ask
“how-now-brown-cow, was your day?’
But you’ll never know
they'll not tell you more -
No ways, whys and hows
of benign bovine lore.

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Have a wonderful Tuesday, Slicers!  Don't forget to link at Two Writing Teachers today with your Tuesday Slice of Life!


  1. Frightening story, love your watercolor and poem. Isn't it amazing where a little research can lead you?

    1. It is amazing and - when I don't HAVE to remember what it was I was doing before getting distracted - fun, too!

  2. I will never think a cow is benign again, Donna. What a terrible thing to have happen. She could have died! Your painting is awesome, the poem divine, and definitely we need the back story to fully appreciate it. Congrats on getting those watercolors!

    1. Ha! My first watercolor inns were with my grandson's set - doable, but the tubes of paint are so much smoother- and the real watercolor paper instead of index cards seems to not curl as much!
      Yes, she was fortunate to have someone happen by way out there!

  3. You are right, animals are animals with their animal instincts and behavior. No matter how cute or calm they look their behavior can be unexpected. The story, the poem, the watercolor painting make one whole. Can't read or look at one without thinking of the others.

    1. It's an "expect the unexpected" situation around animals!

  4. Is anyone else thinking James Patterson's ZOO?

  5. I'm glad Rachel wasn't hurt too! I would have never thought cows were dangerous. Huh! Your cow painting is wonderful. And I especially like the phrase "bovine lore" -- there's more to them than meets the eye!

    1. I am glad Rachel happened upon the scene and didn't get hurt AND was brave enough to rescue her!

  6. You are one talented poet writing lady! Love the way to hinted to the misdeeds of the cows, but no one would know the horror they inflicted without the back story. How awful for Babette Cole and how lucky for her to be rescued.

    1. Couldn't help but contrast the two points of view here...Babette's horrible experience and the cows obvious perception of her as a danger to them.

  7. Even the most calm and gentle animals can become dangerous if the circumstances are right. Frightening to think about. I'm thankful that she was found!

    That's a cute painting, though. :)

    1. I didn't know I could paint a cow! It's not the best cow watercolor in the world, but I think you can tell it's a cow, at least.
      Yes, so fortunate that Rachel came along when she did!

  8. I am amazed at how you got this fun-filled rhyming jig about lying cows from such a horrific story. I have been watching videos of cuddly cows and thinking they were so harmless. Apparently not all cows are the same. Thanks for sharing your side of the story.

    1. I didn't want to make light of the situation, but I also started thinking about how the cows didn't, and still don't, have a clue that they did a thing wrong or out of the ordinary. Never go into an unfamiliar fenced area...in case of cows. They don't like intruders.

  9. This took an unexpected turn. When I clicked in I was lighthearted, cows and poetry. This will be fun! Just goes to show my inclination to put cows into the storybook format where they are often so charming. A good reminder of animal instincts and to always take care. Your watercolor painting is lovely and your poem struck just the right note in perspective.

    1. It's like how the deer in our yard will snort and stamp a foot when I come outside. They are so docile and timid, yet for that moment they seem truly angry at me for invading their space. Fortunately, so far they just leap away in a few seconds!

  10. What a horrific story - but such a reminder that animals do not ever share human values. Also you captured the look of a cow so wonderfully in your painting.

    1. It reminds me of strange dogs or cats and little kids who just walk up to them. I always cringe.

  11. I think being taken down a different path when we're writing is part of the fun. Your watercolor "paints" a much gentler image of cows than the terrifying attack on Ms. Cole, as does your poem. Thanks for sharing!


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