Baxter Black: PNT columnist
If you find yourself drivin’ down a highway this spring, through cow country, it’s possible you’ll spot a bunch of cows walking along strung out in a line. But, you’ll notice none of their little calves are with them.
If you are a cow person you already know the mamas are not abandoning their babies. They are simply working mothers who have left them in Bovine Daycare. Somewhere back in the pasture you will find 10 to 20 calves in their nursery, watched over by a keen-eyed mama cow.
It is a demonstration of “mothering ability,” a trait touted by certain raisers of purebred cattle. This trait is evident in other expressions of “concern” and protectiveness; i.e., bawling for her calf when they are separated or attacking a dog, coyote, mountain lion, or man when they get too close to their offspring.
We reserve one day a year to recognize Mother’s Day. In my mind, it ranks in the top three with Christmas and Easter, far above holidays like President’s Day, Thanksgiving, daylight-saving time, April 15th, Halloween, John Wayne’s birthday or Donald and Ivana Trump’s trial separation.
Many of the memories we carry from childhood of our mothers involve directional measures to keep us headed down the path of life; “Stay out of the ditch! Elbows off the table! Stand up straight! Be home at nine! Read a book! Wear something decent! Cut yer hair! Wait till your Father gets home!”
Then, sometime during adulthood, usually when we have our own kids, we hear ourselves repeating those same directional instructions.
What we often don’t think about, is the primitive reason behind your mother’s constant nagging, tinkering, correcting, and guiding of her offspring. It is not love, ambition, or pride, no; it’s the preservation of the species. Just like those mama cows, who protect, raise and teach their calves survival lessons. Not out of love, ambition or pride, but to carry on the bloodline.
Maternal instinct is the deep current beneath the multiplicity of ripples we describe as behavioral traits, in cows and humans. Nobody loves ya like your mama; ask any calf or first grader. It comes from way down inside.
Note: I did not run this column by my mother before publication. She may think comparing her to a mama cow was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Matter of fact, she may feel the need to apply some “directional measures” to the seat of my pants!
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: