Beware the Sleeping Tiger (chinese proverb)

Monday’s news bulletins relating the latest hullabaloo about cows attacking dogs and humans who approach their calves, reminded me of an incident that did this old heart good.

It was a summer’s day, around the turn of the century (the one just gone) when L and I watched and wondered why the cows at the back of the house put a bit of a spurt  into their usual ambling pace, gathering as if in conclave, in a far corner of the field.

Still novices at rural living, every new occurance was of great interest and this gathering of the clans, albeit of the bovine sort, had us watching and puzzled.  The length of a protracted coffee-break passed before the bulky, clustered circle split; cumbersome frames pushing and shoving for leg-room to turn and peel away one-by-one, back to the day-job of serious grazing.

Soppy parents still (great-grand’s actually) we oohed and aahed as a new mother raised herself from the ground to lick clean and fuss over the raggedy, prostrate form.  We were ridiculously pleased when the new-born showed signs of life  and it was probably naive of us to be so  surprised that the herd had rallied round as if to stand guard;  it was after all, the most vulnerable of times. We had often quoted  ‘nature takes care of its own’  but until that day we never quite knew how.    

I shall never understand why unthinking people who let loose dogs and themselves on young livestock, are so  indignant and surprised that they spurr the most docile of creatures to the fury of  a tiger when its young are threatened.

We shall have to spread the gospel of No Petting, No Patting !

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