Have you ever had this happen to you? You stop at a friend’s farm. Knowing he or she is in the barn doing chores, you saunter across the barnyard unannounced. You can hear your friend carrying on quite an animated conversation with someone. You walk through the barn door and there indeed is your friend and he is indeed talking but there is no one else in the barn. He sees you and abruptly falls silent. He gets a look of awful embarrassment on his face. He has been talking to his animals as we all do but don’t like to admit it.
During the days when I was milking a hundred cows, I was often caught carrying on learned discussions with my Holsteins. If the visitor were a friend, especially if he had been caught talking to animals himself, he might put on a big show of mystification, going to great lengths to look around to see whom I had been talking to.
A milker of cows is sort of like the blacksmith of yore. Morning and evening you are always in your office, so to speak, and the whole neighborhood knows it. You are a captive audience to every fervent Republican who wants to pleasure you with his latest joke about stupid Democrats. Or vice versa. Salesmen know you can’t escape them. Every righteous crusader for every righteous cause wants to practice his pitch on you. Every hunter has a new escapade to tell you about how he saw the buck deer with the biggest rack in the county but of course did not get a shot at it.
Animals are great to talk to. They can be trusted to keep any secret, will not point out to you embarrassing contradictions of logic in your arguments, and they never argue back. They just nod and keep on eating. They will only interrupt your flow of brilliant reasoning if they run out of food.
Conversing with animals can be quite effective.
“I tell you, they should just throw all those politicians out of Washington and start over.”
“Munch, crunch, munch, crunch.” The sound of a cow chewing hay is as soothing as the sound of a waterfall.
“Well, yes, of course, somebody has to run the government but why can’t they compromise more.”
“Munch, crunch, munch crunch.” The big round cow eyes stare placidly out on the world, unperturbed.
“As long as they don’t kiss up to those rich Republicans too much.”
“Munch, crunch, munch, crunch.” One ear wiggle-waggles.
“Well, yes, there are rich Democrats too.”
“Crunch, munch, crunch, munch.
“Quite a lot of them in fact.”
“Munch, crunch, munch, crunch.”
“Oh, to heck with it all. I’m goin’ coon-huntin’.”
Animals often do know what you are saying and can talk back if they feel like it. You just have to be properly attuned. We are all convinced that our son’s dog has developed an extensive vocabulary. At Christmas time, his master adorned him with a ridiculous big red Christmas ribbon around his middle. When I complimented him on his attire, he turned right around and nudged the ribbon with his nose. I swear he knew what I was talking about.
Husbandmen and husbandwomen are basically contented souls. They are never really lonely. They always have a psychologist out in the barn ready to listen to their tales of woe and it doesn’t cost them a hundred bucks an hour either.