What A Cow Wants, What A Cow Needs…

June 16th, 2008

A few nights ago, we headed out to Kay’s ( one of the CD’s Nurses) other farm which is located 40 miles north of us. The County Extension Agents were hosting a prairie walk through one of Kay’s pastures. We were under the impression that the walk would focus on wild flowers and native plants…

Which it did, but with an unusual twist…

When we arrived at Kay’s farm a large group of people were being told that this year’s tour will not focus on wild flowers….

Instead…

This year’s tour will focus on prairie plants that are good for a cows healthy diet…


Cows

Healthy
Diet
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

WHAAAAAAAT!!!

For the next two hours we wandered around a pasture, while our guide who was a very interesting mix of pointy headed plant person and down to earth farm guy explained in GREAT DETAIL the twenty seven different types of plants in that particular pasture that are GOOD FOR COWS TO EAT… AND WHY… AND HOW…. AND WHERE… AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON.

Except that it was actually more like nine thousand plants, because every once in a while, as we walked from plant three to plant four or plant six to plant seven or plant twelve to plant thirteen, our guide would bend over, swoop up another plant and say…

This plant is not on the tour…. but let me tell you about it anyway...

And then he would tell us ALL about it. Every detail… Every part… Every single square inch of that plant… and when a cow prefers to eat it, and whether or not it is palatable and whether or not it is a legume or a forbe, or good for nitrogen, or protein, protein, protein.

Here is a typical explanation from our guide and how the crowd responded…

Guide – Anyone know what this plant here is called?

Farmer 1 – Bovine Tongue Rot

Farmer 2 – Wiggle Bush
Farmer 3 – Sticky Sticky Cob Cob
Farmer 4 – Ladder to Hades
Farmer 5 – Prickly Papoose
Farmer 6 – Demon Thorn
Farmer 7 – Goat Grief
Farmer 8 – Pickle Thick
Farmer 9 – Old Squaw Hunchback
Farmer 10 – Rocky Mountain Hippie Stink
Guide – That’s right, but it is also referred to as the genus Tratteriopsis Florabunda Pasturiticulum goodohforocowoh. Now, can anyone tell me what type of plant this is?
Farmers – LEGUME!

Guide – That’s right! Can anyone tell me what the Native Americans used this plant for?

Expert Plant Lady With Magnifying Glass and Sketch Pad – They boiled the roots and made tea.
Guide – That is right!
…And then the guide would launch into greatly detailed description of the plant saying things like protein protein, protein, palatable palatable, palatable, forbe, forbe, nitrogen, nitrogen, protein legume legume, legume, mama cows, baby cows, palatable, protein, forbe…
Somewhere in the middle of his description my eyes would begin to itch and then stream with tears, my hands grew numb, all of my ligaments felt like they were on fire, my nerve endings recoiled in horror and my legs quivered like marshmallow jello.
Finally.. at the end of my strength… I fell back hard on the tall prairie grass… and I laid there motionless making tiny whimpering sounds which everyone around me completely ignored, especially the Country Doctor.
As the group moved onto the next plant that is good for cow’s to eat, I would dig down deep and tap all my inner reservoirs of iron clad perseverance and I would rise like the phoenix and hobble over to the next plant only to quickly fade once again.
Clearly, I was going to die if something did not change quickly.
Then the guide would pick up a new plant and hold it aloft saying…

Guide – Does anyone know what this here plant is called?

Farmer One – Sticklewort.

Farmer Two – Brisbane

Farmer Three – Snakebite on a Squaw

Farmer Four – Indian Blanket Bush

Farmer Five – Trickle Track

Farmer Six – Shropshire

Farmer Seven – Horns of the Devil

Farmer Eight – Satan’s Whip

Farmer Nine – Scourge Whip Scourge

Farmer Ten – Slippery Skunk Scrote.

Guide – Yes, yes that is all correct. Do you know what the Indians did with this plant?

Expert Plant Lady With Dictaphone and Belly Pack – They boiled the roots and made tea.

Guide – Correct.

Farmer 1 – Those Indians sure made a lot of tea.

Guide – Yes they did. Now, lets’ disc

uss palatability, protein, forbes, leave whorls, legumes, nitrogen, and did I say palatability yet? Oh! Looky here! Here’s a plant that is not on the tour, but it is very interesting. Anyone know what this is called?

Farmer One – Teensy Puffs

Farmer Two – Mock Lemon Daggers

Farmer Three – Nebraska Red Darts

Farmer Four – Prickle Pines

Farmer Five – Stinkbait

Farmer Six – Opossum Piss

Farmer Seven – Indian Feather Foot

Farmer Eight – Papoose Punch

Farmer Nine – Squaw Squaw Squaw Diddly Squaw Dee

Farmer Ten – What the… What? Huh? Squaw What?

Guide – You are all correct and do you know what the Indians did with this plant?

Everyone – They boiled the roots and made TEA!!!

Guide That’s right!

Finally, after miraculously awakening from my nineteenth coma of the evening, with my hair full of cockleburrs (also known as Cat Claw, Devil Dip, Indian Briar, Satan’s Scourge, Angel Tears, Sobbing Squaw, Bitter Life of Turmoil, Death in a Pasture, Choke and Die Slowly, Yellow Puss Boil Weed, and Sticker Patch) I decided to entertain myself by wandering off and taking some pictures.

As I walked away the rest of the group drew a big sigh of relief and a few applauded.


Then they turned back to the guide who was saying something like, legume, legume, nitrogen, legume, forbe, mama cow, baby cow, protein, protein, protein.


The sun began to sink.


We tried to take some “holding the sun pictures”.


We failed.


I took a picture of Kay who is pictured here driving the Gator. She is sitting beside a lady whose family homesteaded nearby land many years ago. The lady told Kay a story about her family’s homestead burning to the ground. At the time of the fire the kids were grown and married and gone, but her elderly father still lived on the farm. He did what any farmer would do whose place had burned down. He moved into a cave on his property and lived there for TWO YEARS!!!

Once during his two year cave stint, while taking a bath ( because you know, you can live in a cave, but not without a BATHTUB) a black snake dropped from the ceiling of the cave into the tub. The elderly man calmly took his cane beside the tub, and tossed the snake out.

And that’s exactly what I will do too.

Someday…

When I am elderly and use a cane…

AND LIVE IN A CAVE!!!!!


Then Kay took my boys off to her pond to do some fishing…

And left me alone on the prairie with a bunch of people talkin’ legumes…


Please don’t leave me here…

Please!

Please!!!!!


Take me with you!!!!!

Come Back!

Come!!!!

Back!!!!


And then the sun set on the prairie.
The end.

Comments

  • Kris:

    Oh my, I am laughing so hard I am crying. Farmer plant ID. Indians making tea. Cows perfect diet… And then the coup de grace: the snake — they would find me, dead in the tub from a heart attack, with no apparent motive for my demise (the snake having moved on by that point). That just may be an MO for a perfect crime. Someone tell CSI: The Boonies, they probably haven’t covered that one yet.

  • Heidi:

    That sounds like an adventure for sure!! Its fun to look at flowers, but a guide like that would have driven me to drink heavily. it may have caused me to walk away from the group and do my own scouting…. :) Glad you had fun, is hubby feeling any better?

  • Coffee Bean:

    Opossum Piss was my favorite.

  • Coffee Bean:

    You need to buy your sister a really good present… like coffee.

  • Jenni:

    You know, that is exactly the type of tour I would love, but your perspective on it is absolutely hysterical. I love how creative you got with all those plant names. The Rocky Mountain Hippie Stink and the Slippery Skunk Scrote especially made me laugh. You also have some really great pictures in there. The one of (is it Calder?) holding up a flower is so crisp and the colors are so perfect and the composition is lovely. Even if he’s being silly, well, that makes it all the more perfect because it’s real life. You have some great sunset pictures, too. I love the one of the boys pulling up weeds and fighting with them. How typical of boys:o)If you or any of your readers do want to know about Kansas wildflowers, here’s a great sitehttp://www.kswildflower.org/I know y’all are KU fans and this is a K State based site, but perhaps you can overlook that this once. I think K State is for the aggie crowd and who backs them thar extension offices.

  • noble pig:

    Oh geez that is so hilarious…gawd I would strangled myself with some of that their Devil’s Whip!

  • PAT:

    Rechelle, J (the retired farmer) and I enjoyed this so very much! Once again, he walked away from the computer saying, “She’s a dandy.” Pat

  • MUD:

    Once upon a time the MG (New shorthand for the Master Gardner) and I were on one of those trips led by a lady with a hat that was four feet across the brim. She told us the latin name for everything She would ask what a plant was and Barb would tell her the generic name. Correct. I asked her to never turn into one of those ladies that use the Latin name for everything. The other day she told me the Latin name for one of her plants and I reminded her that she promised to not turn into one of those old ladies that use the Latin name. She coldly looked me in the eye and said,” I’m not OLD!”. MUD

  • MUD:

    Once upon a time the MG (New shorthand for the Master Gardner) and I were on one of those trips led by a lady with a hat that was four feet across the brim. She told us the latin name for everything She would ask what a plant was and Barb would tell her the generic name. Correct. I asked her to never turn into one of those ladies that use the Latin name for everything. The other day she told me the Latin name for one of her plants and I reminded her that she promised to not turn into one of those old ladies that use the Latin name. She coldly looked me in the eye and said,” I’m not OLD!”. MUD

  • chocolatechic:

    This is one very hilarious post.I laughed and laughed!

  • chocolatechic:

    This is one very hilarious post.I laughed and laughed!

  • Maria:

    Well, I hate to repeat what everyone else is saying but I was laughing so hard at your post, that snot was verily expelled from my nose. Stinking funny. And the skunk scrote was my favorite part. I lost it at that point. Completely…and those photos of the setting sun and the kids are beautiful.Good gravy I wouldn’t have survived that little walk about without a camera either…you’re a saint.

  • maudie-mae:

    Welcome to life with my husband. This is his specialty and every car trip we ever took as a family included at least one stop to determine what kind of grass was growing beside the road we were traveling down at the time. He just came home from a tour of this type and had the time of his life. He enjoys putting together guessing games like this one for students in his field. He used to spend hours gauging the nutritional content of various grasses in various stages of growth. One thing about it, he knows his grasses, and he always knows where to find wild flowers. In August we’ll celebrate our 30th anniversary.

  • Caution:

    I think I would have cried when the boys got to leave with Kay. I guess I have the heart of a republican because I would have walked away from the lecture thinking, “Forget the grass thing. Can’t we just feed the cows some more chemicals?”

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