Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cattle, Anyone?

Just to change subjects a little from the non-stop illness and baby chatter around here, we'll talk about that bison reserve we went to while on vacation. Contrary to what you might think, though, I'm not going to actually talk about the bison. I will at some point, but for now I feel like telling you about a type of cattle I'd love to raise here. Yep. You read right. Cattle. Now, I know that this terrain (and you've seen pictures of it before) is usually used to raise sheep or goats, but I think cattle could be interesting. I'd really like a milking cow, but good luck on that with the poor foraging she'd get out here. I have found, however, the perfect meat cattle to fit our place and its harsh vegetation.

They're called Highland Cattle. They come from Scotland, and they're all furry and cute. See in the picture there. I know what you're thinking: "What is she going to do with that hairy beast in a Mediterranean climate?" Well, let me just share some info I've learned about these guys. Apparently, having lived in the harsh environment that is the Scottish Highlands, they evolved into a very hardy animal that can survive almost anything. Incidentally, this must be the same reason the guy on The Highlander can live for hundreds of years, right? Apparently, the climate and terrain are rough enough to alter men to?? Anyway, back to the cattle.

They'll eat anything (quite like goats or sheep). They're very disease resistant. They don't need more shelter than a few nice shade trees (even in winter!!). Now you're probably wondering what kind of temperament such a rugged animal would have, right? Well, apparently they're quite docile. Whoda thunk it? And, now the cool part... because my husband was all concerned they couldn't handle our hot, dry summers with all that hair. "Hair," you say? "What hair?" they say. Yep, they shed it. That's how adaptable they are. I know, as a knitter, part of me wishes we could just sheer it and spin it up into something soft and wearable. That's okay, though, because their real purpose (aside from their wonderful fire preventing land-clearing abilities) is their meat. They are apparently well-known in the British Isles as offering the best beef out there. Sounds like an ideal, low maintenance business idea (sorry if there are any vegetarians out there that are disgusted by this idea).

So, what does all this have to do with the bison reserve? Well, on the way there, I had been telling my mother-in-law about these cattle. The only way I could think to describe their appearance was to say they looked a bit like bison. And, then, what do you know? We get there, and on the walking tour I took (because the bumpy ride in the carriage didn't sound right for my "current state") there were a couple of these guys lounging around under a shade tree. Cute, huh?

Oh, and since this is supposedly a knitting blog, I'll update you on the current knitting project (pictures soon, I swear). I've only got the toe left to do on the baby sock I'm making. Funny thing, though. It's huge. I was disturbed by this at first, because they looked so tiny in the photo with the pattern. Apparently, they should add a little disclaimer: "caution, objects are larger than they appear." I just figured they were for newborns or something tiny like that. Then, I decided to look at the pattern (yeah, I know, weird concept, actually reading the pattern and all). I'm pretty much right on with my gauge, it seems. They're just made for a larger kid. Funny, I think, because for me, something with feet 3 1/2 inches long hardly qualifies as a baby anymore. What is that, a 1-year-old? Or could I have just forgotten how fast they grow? Little weeds.