There was something wrong. I watched as the cow in the rear slowly hobbled after the others picking her way cautiously across the uneven ground. I turned as she rejoined the herd and continued on my way.
As I crested the hill on my walk the following day and the pasture opened up in front of me, I saw my cow lying by herself under the lone tree in the pasture with the rest of the herd nowhere in sight. I was worried now and made a mental note of her appearance so that I could let the farmer know. I heard myself telling him, “You know, the brown cow with the white face. The one that looks exactly like the other brown cows with white faces.”
That evening I flagged the farmer down on the road and began relating my sad tales of the cow with the limp. The farmer nodded his head and said he knew. “Yes, I 40.”
“ I 40,” I repeated. Of course. If I was having trouble identifying a cow in a herd, so would a farmer who had two other herds just like this one. The ear tag solved the problem for him, but not for me. I decided she deserved a proper name and so Irene it is.
Irene’s leg has healed and she has blended back into the herd, but I have a soft spot for her. As I walk by now with my customary, “Hi Girls,” I have added “and Irene.” We watch out for each other here in the country. That’s just the way it is.