Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings: Personal observations on a wide variety of subjects. Photographs of creatures and things that are taken on seeing the unusual as well as everyday things.

Ticking time bomb

As a young child I lived next door to a farm. That is to say, at the bottom of my garden there was a large five-bar gate. The other side of the gate contained a beautiful meadow with tall swaying grasses and in the Summer the field turned bright yellow with buttercups . Most of the time, I would ask for permission to climb over the gate and walk in the field ... but sometimes adventure pulled at my pores and I would climb over the wooden beams of the gate and jump down into the cool of the meadow grasses without first thinking to ask if it would be all right.

A herd of black and white Fresian cows slowly munched their way around the field ... I would walk up to one of them and pull out a handful of grass and hold it under her large dripping wet nose and feel her long, rough tongue scoop the offering out of my little fingers. Then I would lightly rub my palm over the length of her face and feel the vibration of her soft, bellowing 'moo' tingle all the way up my arm. Cows tails would slowly wave from side-to-side and occasionally flick across their backs swishing flies away. Every so often one would urinate or defecate which would crash out like a fireman's hose all hot, watery and steamy ... before long it would dry into a firm round cow pat in the heat of the Summer sun.

For some strange reason the meadow was always lush with tall grasses and flowers and no matter how much mooing and chewing the cows did it would always remain the same.

There were certain things that I was told to always remember when standing near to cows (although I shouldn't really have been in a field on my own in the middle of a herd of cows). My father gave me a magic word to say (a just in case what to do if I should at some point in my life ever be confronted with a herd of cows) ... I have to confess that I practised the word so that I would be prepared and then I felt safe. The word, one which farmers in the vicinity appeared to use was "gercha" a short word meaning 'go on with you.' On the times that I used it - it worked quite effectively ... the cows would turn and go in the opposite direction.

I felt a tremendous sadness when cows suddenly were struck down with BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy ... bad enough when it occurred naturally in an old animal but not when it was found in young healthy beasts. The most frightening aspect of BSE in younger animals was the fact that it was alleged that it was caused by a prion and prions it is said are indestructible.

Little note added one day after posting: for those of you who may be interested ... it was found that prions which allegedly were found in certain animal foods adhered themselves to proteins within animals that had eaten the food, especially cows but also there have been findings in other animals as well. The prion connects to the protein which is then changed forever so when a cell splits and multiplies it is the new version (protein + prion) that is created. This potentially has the ability to travel throughout the body in every area where protein cells are found. In cattle this led to 'BSE' or 'Mad Cow Disease.' It was found that if a person then ingested the meat containing these prions they could develop 'CJD' the human variation. The ingested prion can affect both the brain and the body and usually leads to death.

In certain instances it is alleged that it has taken a very short space of time from ingestion of contaminated meat and the onset of the 'disease.' It has often affected people around the age of twenty but scientists alledge that it may be lying dormant in many people and could suddenly take hold of anyone who may, at some time during their life have eaten contaminated meat.


MamaFlo said...

I have no idea what you are talking about Girl, maybe it would help if I had grown up on a dairy farm.
What are the symptoms of this disease and why do the cows get it, where do they get it?

YummY! said...

I saw lots of cows growing up, but was never close to any of them.

LadyK said...

Scarey stuff BSE and CJD, and so sad too. We raised beef cattle, although this was years ago, before any info on BSE ever came to be.

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Kloggers said...

LadyK - I think the BSE and CJD relationship is extremely scary. The fact that there has now been BSE findings in many parts of the world could mean something in the future worse than any disease that has been know to man before. Secondly, as it is caused by a prion and not by bacteria or virus is a step further than any other outbreak man has experienced. Thirdly, instead of tackling it head on - it seems to have been swept under the carpet - rarely, if ever mentioned. And, lastly, with it being allegedly caused by a prion and those are indestructible even in intense heat such as nuclear ... that is frightening!

Jennifer said...

Your article was definately a good read! I myself never grew up on a fram but I can imagine the meadows. So sad for the gentle cows!!

MamaFlo said...

Very interesting facts.

Jacqueline said...

I didn't grow up on a farm, but it was definitely "Country." That's probably why I love nature so much. When you spoke of the cows, grass, flowers, I was right there with you.

Sadly, in addition to rampant apathy, the FDA doesn't have enough people to keep the whole world safe from contaminated meat as well as many other foods.

Great post!

Chronic Chick Talk said...

Hi there,

Its nice to have a garden when it grows adundantly. But sometimes they just don't produce. This year my garden has been sluggish.

Chronic Chick Talk


How lucky to have grown up around those cows! I find this to be one of the most interesting things I have read. I feel so sorry when animals are hurt and I had never heard of those prions. Great information.

LizzyT said...

When I was young my aunt and uncle lived on a dairy farm in Cornwall. I used to love spending my summer holidays there and often used to help the farmer bring the cows in for milking. It was fun stopping the traffic and smacking the cows to get them to move along.