Thelma the Cow

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Thelma the Cow

Thelma was a sight to behold.  Farmers from across six different states had said as much, and Farmer Hatfield offered no argument.  The cow’s horns glistened in even the rainiest of days, her stance gave evidence of her broad shoulders, and even Thelma’s tail seemed just a little bit better than others.  Even Farmer Hatfield could not say if the tail was made stronger than all others’, or if Thelma just flicked it with greater skill and panache than any other cow.  Whatever the explanation, Thelma was clearly the finest cow around.

Thelma had kept watch over the other animals since the day she had stopped wobbling on her legs.  Before anyone (or any critter) could tell her otherwise, Thelma had decided that she was in charge.  She mooed and snorted at any opposing cow.  The former leader of the herd was a nasty cow by the name of Daisy.  All the cows assumed that Daisy’s foul disposition had come from her uncreative and overly feminine name.  Even with a different title, it seemed quite apparent that Daisy would still have had a surly edge about her.   She had been known to bite other cows’ tails, to urinate on the trough after she had eaten her share, and generally to have been a grouchy cuss.

Now Thelma, being the fantastic cow that she was, noticed right off what a mangy bully Daisy was.  Weighing in at one-fifth of Daisy’s tremendous mass, Thelma trotted right up to Daisy one day and looked her in the eye.  Well, if truth be told that wasn’t exactly how it went.  Thelma tried; she ran right up to Daisy and tried to stare her down.  Daisy just laughed and Thelma was left with a view of the bottom of Daisy’s jaw.  Backing up her legs a touch so that Daisy didn’t loom quite so tall over her; Thelma tried her best to make her voice deep and scary.  Out came a long, slow, rather high-pitched, “Moo” that could easily have been mistaken for a kitten’s “Mew”.

The change in Daisy was instantaneous.  As soon as Thelma stared with her beady, determined eyes and let loose her version of a vocalized threat, Daisy froze.  A moment later Daisy’s eyes rolled up and into the back of her head.  She listed to the side, and then fell with a mighty crash onto the ground.  To all the cows watching, it was an astonishing feat.  None of them had ever seen any animal floored by sheer determination; certainly not a cow of Daisy’s stature.  The veterinarian who was called in to check on Daisy soon surmised that a small child had been feeding the cow massive amounts of sugar, chocolate, and jalapenos.  (The veterinarian’s best guess was that the child wanted Daisy to dispense hot cocoa.)  Daisy recovered from her heart attack and spent the rest of her days quietly lounging about on a petting farm.  She never fully recovered from what she thought was Thelma’s assault.

Of course, the cows back at the farm had not been informed that Daisy had been done in by foreign foods.  They thought Thelma had immense powers.  From that day forth, she was treated with respect and reverence.  The other animals around the farm approached her with a hushed awe whenever Thelma approached.  The active and hectic clucking of chickens was silenced whenever they saw Thelma coming towards their pen.

At the same time, Thelma enjoyed her apparent power.  She was afforded the finest food from the trough, the nicest grass to munch on, and the sleeping spots were hers to choose from.  It should be no surprise that Thelma grew to be the healthiest and mightiest of all the cows.  Her self-confidence made her stand taller than any cow that had come before her.  It seemed that Thelma was without flaws.  Who could find a fault in such a creature?

Well, okay.  There was one trait about Thelma that tended to give people pause.  Even the cows spoke about it, but only in hushed moos when they knew Thelma was on the other side of the farm.  Thelma dug in the dirt.

It wasn’t that Thelma picked or kicked at a clot of dirt, it was that she tried to dig into the dirt with her hooves.  The dogs of the farm liked Thelma and her no-nonsense attitude, so they had all become fast friends.  The three dogs were often found running around Thelma, diving between her legs and hoping for some great feat to be performed.  They were her crew, the errand-runners that would willingly fetch anything Thelma asked for.  If the farm was the mob, then Thelma was the godfather and the dogs were her lieutenants.  They didn’t actually have any power, but no animals could tell them that.

As any parent will tell you, spending time with a certain sort of character will cause some of their habits to rub off on you.  Such was the case with Thelma and the three dogs.  One day Thelma noticed her lackeys digging ferociously around a fence post.  Walking over slowly and quietly, she watched as they excitedly pulled out a large bone and the dogs happily gnawed away at it.

Thelma started to wonder what sort of other treasures lay buried underneath the grass.  So it was that Thelma dug holes.  She didn’t do it every day; a cow of her social standing was far too busy with posturing and commanding to find free time.  However, when she had the time, and when a piece of dirt struck her as curious, Thelma went about trying to dig away at it.  She found that her hooves shoveled the dirt quite efficiently; much better than the dogs’ paws.  But getting the hole started was always a challenge.  She tried pulling on the clots of grass with her teeth so that the freed plant would take some sod along with it, but more often than not she would just come up with a mouthful of food.  Thelma never claimed to be the greatest dirt-digging cow on the farm.  Yet she was the only one, so the title was automatically assigned to her by the other farm animals.

That’s the way it is to this day.  People still stop and stare at this wondrous creature.  The townsfolk “ooh” and “aah” and her strength and build.  Farm animals the county-over still tell of the day when Thelma felled the mighty Daisy with no more than a look.  And if you come up to her on just the right day, at the just the right time, you might happen to find the only cow around that digs in the ground like a dog.  No one really knows what she’s looking for.  Maybe you should ask her.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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