Thursday, December 29, 2016

What Cattle Do At Night

Another in a continuing series of articles about what exactly animals and marine life are up to, that you always wanted to know.

We’ve all seen it. About an hour before sunset the cows come home. If we’re talking milk cows, they head for the barn because there’s food there and a place to get out of the wind. But what about cattle on open grazing land? Where are they heading? How do they spend their nights?

First of all, we’ve all heard the expression “herd mentality” and when it comes to cattle, there are always some dominant animals that decide where and when the herd moves. They are after all prey animals, so there’s safety in numbers. So after a hard day of grazing, cattle will seek out some lowland out of the wind and elements and find bedground for the night. You would be surprised at how much body heat an 1,800 pound cow can generate and they do have a whole lot of insulation, so I would not get too hung on whether or not they are cold. Ask a rancher in North Dakota how low the temperature has to get before a cow freezes.

There’s usually a lot of gossip about who saw what (Did you see that rusty old pick-up truck go by?), how much forage everyone had, and some of the goofy things the calves were up to that day. There is a lot of talk about the quality of the forage, so much like humans, cattle will drone on and on about where the best forage was, or complaining about the scarcity, or how long it took to chew cud.

Cattle are very social, so it’s not unusual for some of the better storytellers to break out a story that’s been handed down for generations for the listening pleasure of the rest of the herd. On some rare occasions, the herd will come across some Jimson weed and on those nights the cattle have a riproaring time getting high as kites (perhaps not the best comparison when you’re talking about an 1,800 pound animal) and having some really wicked hallucinations. If you’re wondering what kind of hallucination a cow might have, one of the most common ones is that a cow will think that the ear tag is some kind of radio controller that’s following every move the cow makes. Creepy yes, but not out of the realm of possibility.

So the next time you see cattle making their move around sunset, you’ll have a pretty good idea that the party is about to get started.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Recall Program

Are you having difficulty being able to recall a name or a word when you’re having a conversation with someone or just ruminating on your own? Experts say not to worry. It’s most likely not dementia. There are many other causes….everything from insomnia to anxiety or stress can cause these lapses in memory. None of which make me any less relaxed about the situation.

It’s frustrating when you can’t find the right word to convey your thoughts. And why can’t I think of the name of that band that had a big hit with that song. What’s the name of that author that I like….I’ve read all his books. It’s actually embarrassing to be conversing with someone and be unable to recall a name or a title. You end up repeating over and over that you know the word/name but it’s just out of reach. Sometimes you even go so far as to say something like, “it starts with an “m.”

The fact that I’m able to recall the word or name and hour later (when I don’t need it) is little consolation. I want total recall. Wait. Wasn’t that a movie with what’s his name. You know, he became the Governator. Arnold I-Can’t-Spell-Your-Last-Name. At least I knew there was a movie by that name.

I like to think that the real problem is an overtaxed brain. I’ve collected too much information, taken too many classes, read too many books, watched too many movies, met too many people, stored up too many facts, and spent way too much time surfing the internet. And the result is my brain is overtaxed because it’s overloaded with information. Our brains are impressive organs but they are not anything like IBM’s Watson when it comes to retention and recall. The brain certainly works like a computer but lacking a 12 terabyte hard drive puts us at a clear disadvantage.

You might be saying “get over it” to which I say, “no, you get over it.” The brain wants what the brain wants. Is it too much to ask for total recall for the information stored in there? When I want it?

It’s bad enough that I have to ask Siri for information. Please don’t make me start saying “OK Google.”

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.