I don’t understand cows.

I’m a city boy. Also, I have my doubts that cows understand me. Then again, when those eyes are looking at you from unnervingly close by, who’s to say what’s going on behind them? Maybe they do understand.

As a species they provide milk, steaks, burgers, short grass and more cows. I wasn’t aware until yesterday that they are also good at providing… let’s call it ‘the willies’.

Taking a long weekend in my father-in-law’s little cottage on the north coast (a semi-regular holiday haunt), I lay on the sofa reading a book by the fading window-light. A chewing noise invited me to look up. Less than three feet from my face was the face of a cow. A really big cow. It looked somehow affronted. Do you like it when people watch you eat?

Later, as tends to be the evening routine, I took the dog outside for activities she’d rather not have observed either. She saw the cows (yes, plural). They saw her. They came over, and looked. Seven of them, all in a row, looking hard. A short distance from me. The dog, the cows, I don’t think they’d be friends.

I was very aware that the fence there is only a couple of feet high. Despite the fact I’m a city boy, I was also aware that cows can run, that cows can jump. That cows are big and heavy and probably not too weak. I can’t imagine they got bullied at school.

To sum, I was mostly aware that what keeps the cows on the other side of the fence is nothing more than that they are happy there. I wondered what it takes to disturb that happiness.

That’s when I took the dog back inside.