Understanding what is going on in an animal’s mind is a bit like traveling through foreign terrain with the wrong road map. We have some new hen chicks – we call them Cinnamon Girls because they are brand Cinnamon XYZ from the hatchery and the name fits – they look like they’ve been sprinkled with cinnamon – cute but they are feisty. I have been going into the brooder house and feeding/watering them several times a day for over two weeks and yet every time I come near they scatter to the four corners of their known world as if I am about to slaughter them whole sale. Actually I THINK they THINK that I am a hawk though a mighty benevolent one in that I clean out their dishes and leave fresh food every day – but they crane their necks, turn their beady little eyes on me as if to say -”Hey, you can’t fool us – we know you are BIG and pretending to be nice won’t change that!”
In their tiny little minds there are two categories - BIG (dangerous) and SMALL (food). I guess I should be thanking my lucky stars they think of me as the BIG tough guy! But it is rather frustrating not to be able to convince them of so obvious a reality that I really have no intention of killing them – hey they are layers – I want their eggs! Now the meat birds who we did in earlier this summer – they had no idea what was coming. Everything was FOOD to them – the world was one grand feast! They seemed to have one motto and one motto only – “Eat, drink and…..uh?” They never seemed to really fear me though the fact was that we were fattening them up for the kill. Never saw it coming.
Now the dogs and the cats of course are a little better. They come here from where ever stray dogs and cats come from and they figure out pretty quick that we are a soft touch. If they kill an occasional mouse, raccoon or rodent of some form or another they figure they have earned their keep and they deserve to be fed and loved and pet and fed and loved and pet….actually they are gluttonous for attention more than any thing. It is almost as if, being strays for the most part, they have all talked it over in some kind of animal therapy session and decided that frankly they really NEED attention to serve humanity best and so they get under your feet, they climb on every available part of your person and generally they are so HERE you’ll never forget them and when you actually do notice (like they leave any room for meditation on the trials of a lonely life) they are sooooo grateful. To them everyone is a friend or just someone who hasn’t yet realized they are their FRIEND.
Finally - there is the cow. I won’t mention the bees and the wild birds because well….what can I say. They live in their own sphere – fascinating – but not mine. But in Cowy’s mind it seems that all other living creation come in two sizes – big and small. If you are big you are a source of some level of goodness. Cowy likes to be fed, to be watered and to have her head scratched. She’s spoiled – I’ll admit. But if you are small – dog, cat or kid size – you are a pernicious pest that should be stamped out of existence. I have had to work hard to convince the kids that it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear, how nicely you talk or the gentleness of your heart – if she sees you get too near she will charge. So stay away – on the other side of the fence. Actually – I am no fool – I know any women can have moods and a large bovine is not to be cajoled out of a bad temper easily so it is always best to be very precautions when walking up to a large animal. But for some reason she seems to really like me – she trots over to where ever I am and lowers her head for a quick head rub. I had no particular love for cows – I admire their strength and beauty as an animal but I was totally unprepared for this sentimental side of our cow. Odd.
When I think of it now – I may be the odd one. Animals live on the planet earth but they live in another universe altogether at the same time. I cannot figure them out and perhaps I am not meant to. After all God only told Adam to name them – not psychoanalyze them. I guess I’ll just enjoy them