My first herd of Dexter cows came from a farm in New York. It included 9 cows and a young bull calf which we nicknamed Billy. Some of these cows were related and we had among the nine a grandmother ( Thelma) , her daughter Angel, Angel’s daughter Annabel and Annabel’s son Billy, which was Thelma’s great grandson. Now Thelma was pretty old and tough. She was a small dun colored cow with horns and definitely the boss of the herd, even though most of the others were larger and more fit than she was. Thelma was a little arthritic and slow moving but when she got there, the others made way for her as she swaggered into the group.
Dexters love to run and are pretty smart and emotional. When they change pastures and do something new, it is not unusual to see them do it on a run, and when they run they often jump and kick the air in delight. Have you ever witnessed a child running while watching his feet fly through the air? Well, Dexters do the same thing, as they like to watch their back feet as they perform their antics while running. It’s really comical and fun to watch.
Anyway, one day after the Dexters arrived I had occasion to move them from one of my fields to the barn yard. The route to do this was about 500′ long and led through a small fence-enclosed area where I store some equipment, then a left turn onto a short section of driveway, then a right turn through an opened fence section past our pond, the barn area. This spot alternates between being a very small pasture and part of the barn area lawn.
As usual, the Dexters thought it was great fun to go to a new spot and ran the course with vigor and full antics’ display with lots of classic kick jumps and twists as they navigated the course to the barn. The only problem was that Annabel’s Billy didn’t get it and was left behind in the original pasture. When he realized that everyone was gone, he let out some little bellowettes. I had followed the herd to the barn yard and was amazed at what I witnessed next. Thelma, upon hearing Billy’s blatting, did an about-face and ran at full tilt back to where she had come from, followed by Billy’s mother and Grandmother Angel. Only the relatives ran back, the rest of the herd started grazing the nice grass near the barn, apparently unaware that anything out of the ordinary was afoot. Thelma must have forgotten her arthritis, and ran at the full speed that only a concerned Great-grandmother can muster from an old and tired body when one of their kin is in need. The three of them got to the pasture, rounded up little Billy and headed back along the route to the barn, still at a full gallop but this time with Billy in the group.
Pretty amazing sight it was and one that speaks volumes about the intelligence of these animals and relationship they have with one another