Monday, November 19, 2007

The old man and the cow - The Dominion Post

This story in the Weekend Post profoundly moves me. Basically, there's this 85 year old guy in the Wairarapa, who every day, leaves his retirement village & cycles 3 km to spend the day with his 38 year old cow.

Ken & his best girl, Silverside - Photo: Andrew Gorrie

Yes, 38 years old. He's basically keeping the old girl alive with the food he brings, because she's fairly toothless, and she produces milk (years after bearing her last calf) which he uses for custard & scones, it makes her feel she's doing something for him, he says. They spend the day walking the lanes, she grazing the berm, until in the afternoon she lets him know it's time to go home. He drops her off at a quarter acre section he owns for her & then returns to the retirement village where he entertains himself watching the documentary channel.

She's the last of a herd he owned decades ago, he sold all but two when he retired, the other died some 5 years ago.

I must be an old softie, this story chokes me up. Here are pictures with sound.

The old man and the cow - The Dominion Post

And here is a a slightly more comprehensive text version.

Coincidentally, my Mum visited in the weekend & told me a story vaguely reminiscent of this old guy & his cow - when she was a child, in the 1940s I guess, she & her family would climb the Welsh "mountain" above her valley, and visit her grandparents who lived miles up into the hills. Her grandparents had a donkey & they would take it and walk further up the mountain to an ancient quarry, where there was to be found a well-spring. The donkey would carry the water back.

Maybe 10 years ago, my mum was back in that village, and she mentioned to family there that the distant hillside looked different.

It transpires that they had filled in the old quarry, because the water feeding the spring posed a potential danger to the village below. Further, mum's informant happened to be one of the surveyors who worked on the quarry project. He told mum that they had found caves containing Roman tools & implements, so the quarry may well be REALLY ancient. But most interestingly of all, they came across the bones of the old donkey. I have no idea when it would have died, probably before I was born though.

These animals can be remembered for a long time.