Auburn Meadow Farm

A modern heritage foodstead

cowpaths: a twisty mystery

My pastures are lined with paths the cows follow every day. They’ve settled into routines and they tend to divide their days into a predictable schedule. Early mornings, you’ll find the boys by the barn, afternoons are spent in the back pasture until dinnertime when they come back once again to the field nearest the barn.

It’s curious – moving from one place to another is very purposeful.  I haven’t sussed how the signal is given, but suddenly one packs it up and hits the path, and the rest step in line and follow. By the snap in their step, you’d think they were going to be late for something important.

What I haven’t figured out is what’s up with cowpaths? Like train cars on a track, each cow takes his place in line and follows along in step.  Sometimes the cowpath makes sense, like here where there is a shallow gully and they follow the edge along the natural shape of the ridge.

But who can explain this? This is a perfectly flat piece of land with not a single obstacle to step around. Why, oh why, does this path wiggle like this? And why do these cows, every single one, every single time, walk precisely in this path random curve and all?

Why I ask?  Is there some deeper meaning I’m supposed to be smart enough to enlighten you with? 

I want to think so, but all I can come up with is this: Some things we’ll never fully understand and that’s okay with me.

What great mysteries both sublime and ridiculous have you been pondering?

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4 comments on “cowpaths: a twisty mystery

  1. oxhilldevons
    November 6, 2012

    Not all cattle do that. Only Devons are so smart to walk so they don’t trample anymore grass than they have to! ;-)

    • Auburn Meadow Farm
      November 6, 2012

      Funny – I’ll have to remind them of that when they’re trampling all over their precious hay this winter…

  2. Jean Curtis
    November 8, 2012

    It feels like the cows determined these gorgeous, French country roads. The wiggles make it beautiful and fun to drive on. They must know that.

    • Auburn Meadow Farm
      November 8, 2012

      Well Jean Curtis, that sounds pretty amazing. As much as I’d like to see your French cowpath-ey roads in person, I’ll have to take your word for it : )

      Merci for the visit : )

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