Ancient Mankind Debates Wild Cattle: An Epic

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Pre-Historic Cave Painting from Lascaux, France

By Ostrander

20 March 2013

I, Big-Jowl the Man, stand before you herds of rough and wild cattle, also called aurochs,[1] on this sunny, early Neolithic day in this valley of the sweeping South Caucasus mountains in order to share a grand vision of your future!  Why not join your well-fed cousins inside the fences of my people-tribe and share in their bovine lifestyles of comfort and ease?

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Only the cleverest of early Neolithics could produce such sturdy grass huts as these!

We, who call ourselves the Real People, but who others have insultingly called the Shulaveri-Shomu,[2] have spread across the Earth, and you know without doubt that we are so much smarter and wiser than you cattle.  Just look at my large head!  It is a shell for my large brain!  Behold my opposable thumbs: I can grab stones to sharpen bones or grab bones to sharpen sticks; there is no end to the magic I can do with these opposable wonders!  I use these thumbs to shape nature to suit people’s needs, rather than stand or fall before the random whims of nature like you poor wild beasts must do.  Every person can do these things; truly I am no exception!  If you doubt my words just gaze yonder upon our sturdy grass huts and behold our roaring pit of fire, oh you fuzzy-eared cattle!

Heck_cattle_male2

The mighty auroch[4] bull. And no, they don’t smoke.

We people do acknowledge the greatness of your kind, you wild cattle!  Your bulls grow mighty in strength and speed, and your long horns have gored countless ferocious beasts of the plains and forest.  Your cows, while less great in size and strength thanks to your striking demonstration of sexual dimorphism,[3] more than make up for this deficiency of mass when they protect their calves from the terrifying predator!  Like us people, you cattle have spread across the face of the Earth, and the ground quakes for leagues before you and the dust rolls for leagues behind as your thousands upon thousands spread from horizon to horizon seemingly with no end, sweeping across the grassy plains and driving all lesser creatures before you!  Yours is a mighty stock!

Long_horned_european_wild_ox

Wolves and a bull frolicking in the snow

Yet we people know that your lives are difficult.  When the heavens withhold their rains you must drag your weary hooves for days with only a shred of hope that a patch of yellow grass or a sip of muddy water awaits you; often you are not smart enough to find them, and your hunger hollows out your ribs and your thirst shrivels up your tongues till you crash in a heap against the ground and the flies swarm over your furry faces.  When the great snows of winter screech across the night, you shiver in the darkness and the icy wind, and the snow clogs your nostrils till you fight for breath, with death looming from the frost or from suffocation.  When you grow sick with the bluetongue, or your calves weaken with the blackleg,[5] you can only hope that your enemies do not strike, because you and your calves will fall behind as a sacrifice to the wolves and the lions!

You cannot hide from us people your sidelong stares of envy towards your big, fat cousins among our herds.  You try to make us think you are just chewing your cud, but we know better!  You see your fat cousins relaxing on rich, soft earth under the warm and golden sun, grazing on sweet, thick clumps of grass moistened to perfection by the morning dew.  “May the wind blow upon our cows with healing; may they eat herbage full of vigorous juices.  May they drink waters rich in life and fatness!”[6]  How shiny and well-groomed their coats!  How clean and polished their hooves!  Our dogs terrify the wolves and the lions, who dare only to peer like cowards from the safety of the distance and the blackness of night, their hungry eyes glowing from our flickering campfire lights.  Our herdsmen guide these cattle to the richest pastures of fragrant, green clover and to the clearest cold rivers fed from melting snows of the mountains of heaven.  We, the Real People, lead our great herds to warm southern pastures in the winter, and in the summer we guide their multitudes to these fair and shady meadows right here beneath the majestic silver mountains of our gods.  When the fever weighs heavily on our cattle, we nurture them to health.  When the calf parts the womb tail first, our witch doctors straighten out its legs for a safe calving.[7]  Elsie,[8] how many calves have died in your womb before they were born?  Such a grievous tragedy!  And so unnecessary!  Under our care, your fat cousins know only peace and happiness!  But you wild cattle know only worry and strife!

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Cattle serenity

Hey all you cattle, look over here!  It is fine and well, just chew while you listen!  Why not join us, the Real People, this day?  Let us lift the heavy and thankless burden of responsibility from your sore and tired backs!  Let us herd you and pat your furry heads and give you names like Angus and hug you and squeeze you![9]  What makes you hesitate?  Air your concerns to Big-Jowl the Man myself, and I am sure my answers will remove all your doubts, every last one!

Elmers logo

Borden and Elmer’s logos[15]

“Moo, moo, moo! We wild cattle, great and proud, are indeed a glorious race!  When your ancestors were throwing feces from the trees, we cattle rolled like thunder across the grassy plains.  Indeed, I, Elmer the Bull,[10] have seen my cousins, as you say, within your wooden fences, corralled by your whooping horsemen and chased by your yapping dogs.  I, along with my wild brothers and sisters, have observed that our cousins are grown big and fat, yes, but I have seen them dangling dead and upside-down from the branch of the tree!  In our cousins’ youth, you people remove their horns,[11] you cleave their tails,[12] and you pierce their noses with rings![13]  You make our cows nurse you with their milk continually; we aurochs believe this goes against nature!  My kind has heard about you people hunting us aurochs to wear our skins and eat our flesh, even the flesh of our little ones, and that you have sacrificed us to your gods!  Moooo!  One day I did look across your fence at my cousin Oscar, and, moooo, I did shudder at a hideous sight!  You did it!  You cut off his bullocks, you bloody baboon!  You did that to him, damn you!  You cut out his bull-hood!  And that’s what you want to do to me![14]  No, we don’t want to live inside your fences under your rule; we wild cattle value our freedom!  Moo-ooooo!”

Whoa, there, Elmer!  You have spoken your piece, oh great bull, and I, Big-Jowl the Man, have heard your concerns with great compassion and understanding, but I beg you to please listen while I address your fears and explain what you have heard and seen!

We people cauterize your great horns to protect you from yourselves![16]  Elmer, remember when you impaled Toro during your great and wild fight to decide who could bestride Elsie as she was stricken with the heat?  Also, no longer will you need your horns for defense against the Big Bad Wolf when you have the might of the Real People warriors behind you at every turn!  And alas, we people pierce metal rings through the noses of our bulls for the ease of their handlers, I admit![17]  But think of this: the bulls with the largest rings find favor with the cows in their heat! (Wink! Wink!)

Also, we people dock the tail of the milk cow to protect her health as well as the health of the milking maid: a clipped tail keeps the night soil from defiling the cow’s udders and away from the blushing face of the busy milking maid![18]  And one thing more!  Elmer, you express shame and concern about our drinking of cow’s milk!  But what a small price to pay for so many good benefits that our husbandry provides!  Yes, some of the people–our terrible, misguided cousins, the Vile People!–have indeed made juicy steaks of your flesh and leather jackets from your hides; this we cannot deny!  But we, the Real People, are a different people altogether, a peaceful people full of virtue and honor!  We have carved a great oath in stone, and its words rule over us as law.  The law says that we must live in peace and we must serve the beasts of the land!  Also, Elmer, you worry about the sacrifices we make to our gods, and I must admit that we do sometimes take a few from our herds for blood sacrifice to gain heavenly favor with Tebuloch.[19]  We sacrifice for the benefit of all creatures, including you wild cattle, and we sometimes must sacrifice even our own virgins as well!  We do not inflict upon you what we will not inflict upon ourselves!  And believe me, Elmer, I do understand the grave concerns about your sterile cousin Oscar, but you must understand that we the people cut these bulls as an act of great mercy!

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Gives protection from the burdens of desire!

These bulls who fail again and again to attract a mate, or those bulls who lack any desire to plant their seeds (surely, Elmer, you know of such bulls) live empty and frustrating lives.  We the people, in our tender compassion, remove from these bulls the burden of fruitless desire; each bull who knows without doubt that he embodies vigor and potency has no reason to fear our numbing bands.[20]  Finally, Elmer, you speak so grandly of freedom, but I must ask you what kind of freedom brings suffering and death, with only yourselves to depend upon for your survival?  We the people offer greater freedoms: full bellies, safe pastures, and good health!

“Moooooo! I, Elmer, speak for the herds of wild cattle gathered before you.  We aurochs have lived for eons under our own care, and to this day we remain great and strong without the assistance of people!  Yet this life of ease does now appeal to some, and your words have sewn division among our herds.  Our leaders must fight in the field to decide the fate of us aurochs, and only after one side or the other has won shall we give you our answer!  Moo-ooooooh!”

Oh cattle, I Big-Jowl the Man, plead with you!  Let you not bloody yourselves to reach this decision!  For the sake of truth and justice, let us people count each of your snouts, as we have gained the incredible ability to add numbers together!  If the greater of your numbers chooses to survive in the harshness of these wilds, then that decision shall surely stand, but should the greater number of you choose to thrive under our tender care, then that decision shall stand instead!  …Ahh, thank you, thank you!  I can see that yours is a smarter breed than I had thought!

I, Big-Jowl the Man, along with my helpers Flat-Face and Tuber-Nose, shall use my clever hands, including my great opposable thumbs, to count your snouts, and we will announce in very little time the results of your collective will!  …Ahh, it seems that the yeas have won this day: five thousand one hundred and two choose a tame and civilized life over the four thousand seven hundred and sixteen who would suffer with hunger and strife.  Have assurance, friend Elmer, that we people have shown respect for each of your snout-votes and counted each one with formidable accuracy, though sadly with your tiny brains you could prove nothing to the contrary!

I, Big-Jowl the Man, stand before you herds of rough and wild cattle in order to proclaim a wondrous vision of your future!  Today you have chosen wisely and well.  Your strength and vigor for all time is now yoked to that of Man, and by the great wisdom of the Real People, we shall always provide you cattle with the greenest pastures and the most doting of care.  You now live as rough and wild aurochs, but you shall grow tame and docile from one generation to the next.  And forever shall we protect your warm, smooth hides and your tender, juicy flesh from all the wild predators of this Earth!

CutsOfBeef

The proud steer

 


[1] Van Vuure, T. “History, Morphology, and Ecology of the Aurochs (Bos Primigenius).” De Van Vuure Homesite. UPC Broadband, n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. http://members.chello.nl/~t.vanvuure/oeros/uk/lutra.pdf.  Wild aurochs once roamed much of Europe and Asia, and presumably early humans domesticated this species into the varieties of cattle that we know today.  The last known auroch died in Poland in 1627.

[2] Archeology Georgia “Shulaveri-Shomu Culture.” Archaeology Georgia. Kambisene, 2011. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.archaeologygeorgia.com/shulaveri-shomu-culture. The earliest known culture to inhabit the South-eastern Caucasus region, the Shulaveri-Shomu began using stone tools, farming crops, and raising pigs and cattle by around 6,000BC.

[3] Van Vuure, T. “History, Morphology, and Ecology of the Aurochs (Bos Primigenius).” De Van Vuure Homesite. UPC Broadband, n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. http://members.chello.nl/~t.vanvuure/oeros/uk/lutra.pdf.

[4] In fact, this is a Heck Auroch, a cattle breed which attempts to restore the presumed characteristics of the extinct wild auroch.

[5] EDIS. “Cattle Diseases.” EDIS New Publications RSS. University of Florida, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_cattle_diseases.

[6] “Rig-Veda, Book 10: Hymn CLXIX – Cows.” The Rig Veda. Trans. Ralph T. H. Griffith. Sacredtexts.com, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv10169.htm.

[7] Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Calving.” Calving. Alberta.ca, 1 Feb. 2000. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex3451.

[8] Elsie the Cow is the long-time cartoon logo of the Borden Dairy Company.

[9] Misquoted from Looney Tunes episode “The Abominable Snow Rabbit”: “Just what I always wanted. My own little bunny rabbit. I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him…” “Memorable Quotes for the Abominable Snow Rabbit.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054593/quotes.

[10] Elmer the Bull, the husband of Elsie the Cow, is the mascot for Elmer’s Glue, a product of Elmer’s Products, Inc.

[11] Irwin, John, and Belinda Walker. “Dehorning Cattle.” Beef Cattle. NSW Department of Primary Industries, 1 Sept. 1998. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/livestock/beef/husbandry/general/dehorning-cattle.

[12] Tucker, C. B., and D. M. Weary. “Tail Docking in Dairy Cattle.” AWIC Bulletin:. USDA, May 2002. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/newsletters/v11n3/11n3tuck.htm.

[13] UC Davis. “Dairy Care Practices, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension.” Dairy Care Practices, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension. University of California, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vetext/INF-DA/INF-DA_CAREPRAX6.HTML.

[14] Misquoted from Planet of the Apes: “But they…! [after seeing that Landon has been lobotomized] You did it. You cut up his brain, you bloody baboon!  …You did that to him, damn you! You cut out his memory! You took his identity! And that’s what you want to do to me!” Wikiquote Contributors. “Planet of the Apes (1968 Film).” Wikiquote. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Nov. 2012. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Planet_of_the_Apes_(1968_film).

[15] How sad that these two are never shown together anymore! It seems they’ve been decapitated and divorced, split by two different companies, a gulf of white, liquid products separating them for all time.

[16] Irwin, John, and Belinda Walker. “Dehorning Cattle.” Beef Cattle. NSW Department of Primary Industries, 1 Sept. 1998. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/livestock/beef/husbandry/general/dehorning-cattle.

[17] UC Davis. “Dairy Care Practices, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension.” Dairy Care Practices, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension. University of California, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vetext/INF-DA/INF-DA_CAREPRAX6.HTML.

[18] Tucker, C. B., and D. M. Weary. “Tail Docking in Dairy Cattle.” AWIC Bulletin:. USDA, May 2002. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/newsletters/v11n3/11n3tuck.htm.

[19] A reference to Mount Tebulosmta, the highest mountain of the Eastern Caucasus.

[20] South Dakota State University. “Beef Cattle Procedures: Castration.” Beef Cattle Procedures: Castration. South Dakota State University, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. http://www.sdstate.edu/vs/extension/beef-castration.cfm.

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2 thoughts on “Ancient Mankind Debates Wild Cattle: An Epic

  1. I have filled in all the required information on the form. You understand this world well. Please give me an email, using the secret information I have supplied. I used the “WordPress” method of filling out the form. The form contains my email address. But I do not know if “WordPress” will give you my email address, now do I? May these details not be withheld from you by the omniscient hosting company, “WordPress.” It is to them that we owe continual courtesy. Right?

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