By Lee Pitts
Among the many things I enjoy about raising animals is watching their interpersonal relationships. If there was such a thing, I think I’d have made a very good cow, sheep, pig or horse psychologist. Wisely, I considered their ability to pay and became a writer instead, which pays only slightly better than a tightwad hog would.
Here are some observations I’ve made over a lifetime of studying farm animals.
Horses are high society. They consider themselves better looking than the sheep, smarter than the cow and higher class than hogs. They’ll use human males and allow them to ride on their backs so they can buck their way into the Hall of Fame, or win the race for the roses at the Kentucky Derby. If they get tired of men, as they often do, they just put them in their place: on the ground. Horses absolutely love the human female gender and vice versa. Women and horses are BFF and the love affair between them is a beautiful thing to behold.
Horses think they’re far superior to cows, don’t care much for sheep and absolutely hate poultry. The only time my horse Gentleman did not act like one was when I rode him behind the shop where we had just finished killing some chickens the day before. I won’t say that Gentleman actually bucked, he never had that much energy, but he almost crow-hopped a little.
Horses set a wonderful example for their barnyard brethren to follow if only the others were that smart. In fly season you’ll see two horses head to tail, swatting flies off each other. When was the last time you saw two hogs doing that? Granted, that might look a little silly considering the fly-swatting ability of a pig’s tail.
Second in line in the social structure of a ranch are cows. This is based entirely on bulk, not brainpower. Hogs, dogs and horses are all smarter than the cow. The cow is the grump of the group. They lack commitment and don’t like anyone, or anything, especially yapping dogs and cowboys. Farm animals are different than humans in that they don’t go around killing each other, but in the case of cows, I believe they would kill some dogs and cowboys if they could only get their hooves on a handgun.
Cattle don’t recognize swine or cowboys as members of the animal kingdom and will only suffer sheep as long as they don’t eat the same grass they do. Despite their place in life, cows can be very snooty with the black hided ones thinking they’re far superior to the reds, and the registered cattle lording it over the more commercial grade. Cows enjoy keeping company with other equally worthy cows but their boorish behavior can border on bigotry. Take the relationship that exists between beef and dairy cows for example. Beefier cows take one look at dairy cows and think, “Just look at those stupid ninnies, gathering themselves up so that some jerk with rough hands can yank on their udders two to three times day.” Or, “What a pitiful example of a cow, being bred by an AI technician instead of a real bull!”
Hogs are the rich uncle who shows up at the family reunion driving a brand new Bentley with a much younger gilt for a girlfriend. Secretly, other animals are jealous of the hogs because they have their food delivered to them and they don’t have to suffer from wolves or PBR cowboys. No wonder they live such happy-go-lucky lives! Hogs would willingly hang around with the other animals and see themselves as peacemakers. While other species tend to mate with other animals that look just like them, a hog will bed down with a goat if given the opportunity.
Last, and possibly least of the barnyard brigade, we have sheep. Think of them as the blonde, valley girl airheads of the group with their gums always yapping. Sheep hate Border Collies, wolves, shearers, and coyotes in equal doses and see themselves as victims. They are the poor, downtrodden members of the farmyard society and every year they must suffer the humiliating ordeal of having their beautiful wool coats sheared off and their private parts exposed for all the swine to leer at with a lecherous look in their eyes.
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Southern Arizona News-Examiner