By Norman B. Isaac

 

Noli M., 47 years old, rides his tricycle and is about to fetch his daughter, a scholar taking Bachelor of Science in Education at one of the universities of Cavite.

The farmer with a cheerful demeanor is the owner of the two cows grazing at the hilly grassland overlooking the tree-lined boulevard. Noli’s cows are just two of the ubiquitous cows one sees dotting the green canopy of Imus and upland Dasmariñas.

“I sold one cow recently and that leaves me with this pair—mother and daughter,” he says with a toothy grin. “I sold it for R20,000…not bad,” he says. “I pay R500 for renting a barako (bull) to mate with my cow. Barakuhan is the usual practice here. And like humans, after nine months, a calf is born.” The calf is a welcome addition to his bovine pets.

“I don’t have problems feeding the cows. I just give them pulot (molasses), mash, and grass,” he says as he points to his cows leisurely grazing on the soggy hill, made wet by the sudden downpour.

He ends our brief interview, “Sorry, my daughter is waiting for me now,” he apologetically smiles. His tricycle snakes through the narrow, muddy path some fifty meters from his grazing cows. As I ask for permission to take photos of his pets, he jokes, “Cow na bahala!”

Noli’s cows are ordinary brown cows, not the Brahman breed we see trudging before carts laden with assorted handicrafts from Pangasinan. Cattle (colloquially cows) are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, and the widespread species of the genus Bos. Cows are referred to as the foster mother of the human race because they produce most of the milk that people drink.

Cows are milked for an average of 3-4 years. A cow must have a calf in order to produce milk. Calves are fed milk until they are 8-9 weeks old.

The average cow is 2 years old when she has her first calf. A cow chews her cud (regurgitated, partially digested food) for up to 8 hours each day. Contrary to popular belief, cows do not have 4 stomachs; they have 4 digestive compartments. Cows drink about a bathtub worth of water and eat around 40 pounds of food a day.

Interestingly, the term “baka” means “cow” in Filipino but “fool” in Japanese!

 

This appeared in Animal Scene’s November 2016 issue.