Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fare Thee Well, Paloma

Paloma, the great horned beast of Mama Roja, the black beauty of the farm, has alas gone onto greener fields and a brighter future.

She came to us nearly a year and half ago, pregnant and hungry. She grew fat in the forest fields of Mama Roja, and taught us innumerable lessons. She gave us milk a-plenty, which we used to make everything we could-- cheeses, butter, flan, dulce de leche, yoghurt, hot cocoas. We had never had a cow before, much less milked one everyday. She was a good teacher, albeit ornery and headstrong.

For those of you who don’t know, each cow has their own special temperament. They suffer emotions, hormonal changes, inner turmoil, good days and bad. Paloma is no exception—moody, inconsistent and sensitive. Milking her was always an adventure. Some days, she thwacked my head every 30 seconds with her disgusting tail (which dripped with fresh poop and urine). Other days, she danced, hoof to hoof, side-stepping her way out of getting milked, sending me into fits of frustration. Then, there were mornings of breathless delight, in which she stood there, angelically chewing her cud, pleasant as could be, even spreading her legs a little as if offering her milk to me. Ah, sweet mornings of woman and beast, united in the ancient practice of milking! She let me caress her belly and sing praise songs while she patiently stood there and batted her loving eyes at me. Of course, sometimes that was her moment to–-wham!—give the bucket a swift kick and cover me with warm milk! Yes, she taught me many lessons…

Paloma birthed her calf here on the farm, magically and unassisted, next to her milk shed before the dawn light lit up the January sky. Suki, the sweet brown cow, is now tall and strong, gentle and playful. She’ll be a good milk cow one day. And if dogs feel longing, I know Lulu’s gonna miss her dearly.
In the end though, this jungle valley was not a suitable place for her, or for us with her. Without a proper fenced pasture(our land is sporadic jungle with lush spurts of green grasses) she lived tied to trees. A tethered life is a disappointing one for a creature meant to roam and graze, to freely wander and make her fill of her 4 stomachs. Plus, it turned us into her servants, escorting her out to eat everyday, making sure she had shade and water and a variety of grasses. They will both be better off with our dear friends and neighbors, who have a large pasture and other milk cows to keep them company. Plus, we can go visit them whenever we want. And maybe I’ll even drop by and milk Paloma come next September when her next calf is born, that is, if Paloma lets me…

We are grateful for everything Paloma gave our lives, the lessons her presence taught us, the feeling of deep connection and responsibility of caring for such a great creature. Thank you, Paloma, and Suki too. Fare thee well.

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