Last weekend, as we were driving down a country road, we passed a large herd of cattle, most with sizable horns. They were gathered around a large bale of hay that had just been added to their feeding trough. I begged Rich to turn around. He barely parked before I leapt.
Seeing me, the owner approached the fence where I could pepper him with questions. After a while, I asked if I could get closer. It’s so obvious that I’m a clueless city slicker. No BBQ-eating, boot-kicking, hell-raising Texan would "pet" a cow as if it was cute puppy.
Happily, the owner and his young son obliged my curiosity.
He had one male Brahman bull. The others were thoroughbred or mixed Brahman, Ankole-Watusi, Gir or Limousin cows (females). Brahman are beautiful animals with long, floppy ears, gentle faces, small horns like giant ice cream cones that stick out from the side of their heads, an abundance of loose skin, and a large hump over the top of their shoulder and neck. His bull was a deep gray and while he occasionally peaked at us, he was more interested in chomping on hay.
There were also two pale gray Brahman cows; both were only a few years old and very shy. They reminded me of Japanese school girls, dressed alike, inquisitive, but too bashful to get very close.
Similar to a Brahman is a Gir. They have firmer skin than a Brahman and larger horns that sweep back and spiral up. They’re also mottled. Like the Brahman, they have floppy, pendulous ears.
The cows that had caught my attention and had the most extraordinary and large horns were the Ankole-Watusi. One article on the Internet referred to them as the "cattle of kings." The cows that we saw weren’t very large. Their horns; however, were amazing. One young, cow was white with deep red splotches. While the circumference of the horns on Texan longhorns is about the same across the entire horn, the base of Watusi horns, which is starts at the head, is very large. The horns can point upwards. The horns of the little white and red cow extended straight out from her head, 18 or more inches. Then horns were bigger than her head. The owner mentioned that the horns are like radiators. Blood circulates through the horn where it’s cooled.
The other cows were thoroughbred or mixed Limousin, which come from France and appeared on cave drawings. They’re sturdy animals and the only cows that we got to pet. The rest were either interested in eating or wary of us.
We spent half hour learning about the cows and the challenge and expense of ranching. The owner works in high-technology so he has the luxury of raising the animals for "fun" and seeing what his Brahman bull produces (so to speak). Two weeks before, during the ice storm, one of his cows gave birth to a solid deep red calf. Between the legs of the many cows, we caught glimpses of the calf.
I can now leave Texas having pet a "long-horned" cow!