Friday, September 01, 2006

The Cow Conspiracy Unravels

Thanks to the wisdom of Spooner Jenkins, mayor of Belvidere, Nebraska (pop. 98), I have been alerted to a growing menace that threatens the very heart of what is good, true and just: Cows. I have previously written about the growing menace of enormous cows cropping up over the US (particularly in the northern climes), but now there is more frightening news:

Farmers believe cows 'moo' with an accent

Cows have regional accents, a group of farmers claims, and phonetics experts say the idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Lloyd Green, from southwest England, was one of a group of farmers who first noticed the phenomenon.

"I spend a lot of time with my Friesians and they definitely 'moo' with a Somerset drawl," he said, referring to the breed of dairy cow he owns.

"I've spoken to the other farmers in the West Country group and they have noticed a similar development in their own herds.

"I think it works the same as with dogs - the closer a farmer's bond is with his animals, the easier it is for them to pick up his accent."

Dom Lane, spokesman for a group called the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers to which Green belongs, said it contacted John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at University College London, who said that a similar phenomenon had been found in birds.

"You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country. This could also be true of cows," Wells said on the group's Web site (

According to Lane, accents among cows probably develop in a similar way as among humans, and resulted from spending time with farmers with differing accents.

"Apparently the biggest influence on accents is peer groups - on children in the playground, for example," he said. "Herds are quite tight-knit communities and don't tend to leave the area."

He added that more scientific research was needed to prove what was just an anecdotal theory at this stage.

Here are some disturbing facts that I take home from this article:
  1. Cows are learning our accents and soon will blend in perfectly with humans. They will infiltrate our ranks as spies and then...who knows?
  2. I wonder if this is not a disguised cry for help from these farmers who are being held hostage by these cows.
  3. Note the mention of dogs in this article. They too are learning accents. This only bolsters my claims.
  4. A guy named Dom Lane (is that a misprint and should be Don Lame?) has devoted his life to phonetics. I think Lame may be a better last name for him.
  5. Could this be a manifestation of Mad Cow disease? Could the mad cows really just be angry at the humans that have so oppressed them for years, whipped into a frenzy by the dogs and unable to contain their fury? I shudder at the thought.
Now another even more disturbing article:

Mooove slowly and don't hug Swiss cows, hikers told

By Laura MacInnisTue Aug 29, 11:54 AM ET

Keep your distance. Avoid eye contact. And even if it looks cute, never hug a Swiss cow.

Responding to numerous "reports of unpleasant meetings between hikers and cattle" along Switzerland's picture-perfect Alpine trails this summer, the Swiss Hiking Federation has laid down a few ground rules.

"Leave the animals in peace and do not touch them. Never caress a calf," the group's guidance, posted on the website, reads.

"Do not scare the animals or look them directly in the eye. Do not wave sticks. Give a precise blow to the muzzle of the cow in the event of absolute need," it continues.

Evelyne Zaugg of the Swiss Hiking Federation said that while there were no precise statistics on incidents involving cows, walkers are reporting more run-ins than a few years ago.

She said new rearing practices, where the animals spend less time around farmers and wander in pastures with little human interaction, were partly to blame for the anti-social behaviour.

Many walkers also panic when confronted by cattle.

"Hikers lose reality about the cows. They don't know how to react when a cow appears," Zaugg said.

If approached by a cow, the hiking association recommends that walkers remain calm and slowly leave the area without turning their backs on the animal.

Michel Darbellay of the Service for the Prevention of Agricultural Accidents, a private group that helped produce the Swiss Hiking Federation's lowdown, said walkers had little to fear if they stayed 20 to 50 metres (yards) from any cow.

But dogs attract cow trouble, he warned.

Mother cows consider dogs a threat to their calves and tend to respond aggressively to their presence. It is when the dogs retreat towards their owners that walkers are most likely to face a charging cow, Darbellay said.

"The best practice is to maintain a fair distance and keep dogs on a leash," he said.

Even more frightening developments:
  1. The cows have gotten even more aggressive.
  2. The conspiracy has spread to the Switzerland
  3. Why would anyone want to hug a cow? Why would they even think of it???
  4. We learn here that the proper defense is to whack them on the muzzle with a stick. That is very useful information for when the cows become aggressive (although the enormous cows in Minnesota will necessitate a very large stick)
  5. They quote Evelyne Zaugg. What's this with these weird names?
  6. Are the Swiss cows mooing with an accent? They make no mention of it. If you know anything about the Swiss accent, it sounds a lot like they are clearing their throat. I would like to hear a cow try to do that!
  7. As much as I am worried about cows, I would say that I am not usually terrified at their appearance. What is it about these cows that strikes such fear into their hearts? Is it some sort of hypnosis? Is it the look of rage in their eyes?
  8. What do they mean when they say these cows "appear?" Do they just materialize out of thin air? If so, we have to be more worried, as they have learned the art of teleportation (something I blogged about a long time ago).
  9. Note more evidence of the cow-dog conspiracy. Dogs make it look like they are attacking the calves, but in reality they are giving a signal for the cows to attack.
Sheesh! This gives me the creeps. Perhaps it is a good thing that those cows in Belvidere are horizontal.

Photographic evidence of the cow-dog connection!