Maybe They Live In An Alternate Universe

Back in the 1980s my favorite comic strip — by far — was “The Far Side,” drawn by Gary Larsen. He had an absolutely matchless offbeat sense of humor. One of his recurring themes was cows. In “The Far Side” cows possessed a superior intelligence that they concealed from humans. However, the minute that people weren’t looking, the cows’ true personalities and intellect were revealed. I thought of “The Far Side” the other day. Louisa and I spent the last week at the Elkhorn Ranch, a fabulous guest ranch located at the base of the Baboquivari mountains. The ranch connects to the nearest paved road by a 7-mile dirt road. Along that road I spotted a number of cattle grazing. I did a double take when I saw what they were eating. _N4B7034 copy The cows were grazing on “jumping” Cholla, a species of cactus that is renown for its nastiness. The plant is covered in segments and each segment is in turn covered with vicious spines, nearly an inch long. The segments detach easily from the plant and adhere to whatever comes in contact with them. Removing them is a painful process. The spines are razor sharp and embed very easily in whatever they come into contact with. But these cows were undeterred. They were happily munching on the cholla. The spines didn’t seem to bother them an iota. _N4B7038 copy The cows didn’t seem to care that the cholla segments were adhering to their faces and lips. _N4B7036 copy One could only imagine what these segments were doing to the cows’ mouths, tongues, and digestive tracts. Were they that stupid? Or, perhaps, Gary Larsen was right. Maybe these cows know something that we don’t? Who knows what they did the instant after I drove away?

Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO+1.4X Extender, aperture preferred setting, ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/1600.

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