Living in rural Texas, one can’t but help become acquainted with animals of rural life. In fact, if your have any acreage you want to be well acquainted with rural livestock. Having cows, goats, sheep and the like qualify you for an agricultural exemption which, in turn, significantly reduces your property taxes. Texans really hate paying taxes.
Alas, but I digress. Every Sunday afternoon, trailers of cattle parade down our street. We’re the least-number-of-stops route to the livestock barn. That’s where cows, sheep, horses, and goats are auctioned Tuesday through Thursday every week. We have a whole new appreciation of “the cattle are lowing” (from the Christmas carol, Away in a Manager).
Another aside: the livestock barn is not to be confused with a stockyard. Believe me, there is a difference.
I have all sorts of weird tidbits about living in a small, rural Texas town. Our streets are extra-wide because the German settlers wanted to be able to turn their ox and carts around when they came to town. I guess ox don’t shift into reverse.
The infamous Texas Longhorn is almost a family pet. They are gentle and intelligent often trained to be ridden! No, I didn’t make that up. I’m not sure how an animal whose horn lengths can reach 7-feet from tip to tip can be considered gentle, but I’m not a breeder. And if that’s the case, why does Bevo, the University of Texas mascot longhorn, have to be restrained at football games. On the other hand, a huge longhorn poses for pictures with people in the saddle at nearby Luckenbach, population 2. Sometimes the neighbor’s longhorns get out of the pasture and roam the streets and no one has yet to be gored, so it must be true.
One other bovine breed, I’d like to mention are the oreo cows, aka Belted Galloways. Yes, they are known as oreo cows, police cows, and panda cows because of their black-white-black markings. They are not native to Texas, but a few small herds reside in our county. I’m not sure if ranchers are raising them for the excellent marbling and flavor or for their uniqueness. I almost drove off the road when I first saw them!
One last piece of bovine trivia before I stop my musings for the day; cattle were the first livestock animal to have its genome mapped. Go figure.