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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

One smart cow

Today I am not writing about Paris or Rome; I am writing about a  much more rural setting in central France.

We have all heard stories or had experiences with very clever pets. Just think of "Lassie", or the animals in "The Incredible Journey".  We marvel at the smarts and skills.

Which brings me to a story recently told to me by my friend. He comes from a family of cattle farmers, in a community of cattle farmers, in a region of cattle farmers since way back in history. In this part of France you say his last name and people say, "I once bought a cow from him". This family knows cows.

One day my friend's father, Gabriel, bought a cow from his brother, He kept her for a few years and all was well. The day came when he decided to sell her, to none other than the original owner, Jean. Yep  sold and repurchased by the same man.

Jean showed up on the appointed day to escort said cow back to his farm, a journey of 16 kilometres he (they) would cover by foot. Mid journey he stopped for a rest, (aka lunch and an adult beverage)  and left the cow grazing contentedly outside the local establishment. When he got ready to leave (and there is no clear answer on how much later this actually was), the cow was gone.

Jean was not particularly worried. He set off for home as planned. Upon arriving at the farm he discovered the cow, waiting in her original stall from 5 years before, just as if she knew where she was going all along. 8 kilometres she walked by herself that day. Along the way she would have crossed multiple intersections, making a choice at each whether to turn right or left. It seems she never faltered, always picking the road that would take her home.

Based on this story alone, I think I may have underestimated the intelligence of cows. Or is the urge to be home so strong that she was driven by a greater need even than Jean's? 


  1. I've heard of dogs and cats navigating long distances to find their way home after being accidentally left behind, but never a cow! I guess I'm guilty of underestimating the intelligence of cows, but absolutely love the idea that she was driven by the strong urge of going home.

    If I ever purchase a used cow I will be sure to document her birthplace in case she disappears one day I'll know where to look.

  2. Richard I love your comment. And yes I was also touched by her desire to return home. I suppose we have all felt that at some point.


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