Blue cows. No. Really. Blue.

My parents had a lot of different milk cows over the years.  Most of them were Holsteins. Holsteins are large bodied black and white mottled cattle. Most commercials that show cattle use Holsteins because they are very distinctive and easily associated with the usual perception of what a cow should look like. I will always remember one of our cows that was a little different.

I was pretty young at the time we had this cow so I kind of got emotionally attached. I was probably somewhere around 5-7 years old. This cow was blue. I’m not talking depressed, I mean actually blue in color. The cow was marked somewhat similarly to a Holstein but instead of being black and white, she was blue. Compared to the other cows, this one was spectacular to my young mind. The other cows were just cows but this one was named. Her very original name was “Blue”.

Real Blue cows!

Real Blue cows!

This coloration is actually a genetic variation called roan. I’m not sure what breed she was. She was probably a Milking Shorthorn. I thought at the time she was a blue Holstein. Sorry, there is no such thing as a blue Holstein that I know of. I didn’t care. I just knew that if a cow could be blue, life was full of possibility. The world was not just black and white. Reality was not just stark and severe with only two choices. If a cow can be blue, what else can happen? Dogs like Australian shepherds can be blue. People might be other colors. ( I grew up in very uni-cultural Southwest Missouri. I never saw a person that didn’t look pretty much like me except on TV until I was in High School.) Anything I could imagine might be possible because who could imagine a really blue cow.

Dad sold that cow. We sold all of our cows eventually. They reach the end of their productive life where milk supply lessens to the point that they are not economically feasible to keep. I remember standing at my parent’s bedroom window watching Blue get loaded up and feeling very sad that she was going away. I already understood at this fairly young age that cattle were not pets. (That is a story for another day.) I still felt sad. Never confuse understanding the reality of a situation with thinking that implies a lack of emotion about the same situation. Blue had changed my world.


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