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No Tag, Brimmer and the Girls

This is not a happy story, but one of love and compassion.

No Tag was old, respected by all, perhaps a bit pushy, self righteous and always demanding more than she was due. Brimmer was an up and coming member of the community, who was learning his place. And the girls, well, they were girls. These maidens were always together and when one was into something, all were sure to follow. There were five of them, not related but members of the group. Full of fun, looking for adventure and sure to find it.

How did No Tag get her name? Everyone else had a title but she was different for you could not put a descriptive name on her, so she was just No Tag.

As things go, it was not a great time of year. Spring came early but without the flourish of greening that usually accompanied it and there was little to celebrate. Still they made the best of the hand they had been given. Young were being born and those of early years were indifferent to the problems that their parents faced. They slept late, ate heartily and danced to a different tune.

Just the past day, all had been treated to a banquet, some ate more than they should, drank heartily from the punch bowl and then finished off the evening in peaceful slumber. Such it was for No Tag. She commanded her position at the table and shamed others away while she feasted. This was her downfall for within hours her fate was doomed. It was a combination of rich food and greed.

She slept and when she awoke, she could not rise. She could not find her legs and she was helpless. The others soon noticed her struggles and knew they could not help. They wandered away.

Brimmer, who was so called because of his heritage, noticed her plight. What to do? He alone came and sat beside her. Watchful, silent and with her to the very end. He moved not, but seemed to understand. Then with a final struggle, No Tag was gone. He rose and rejoined the others.

A rival challenged him and he responded. A brief butting of the heads which was their custom and then they also went their way.

No Tag’s days were ended but there was still the funeral procession. The entire group that had been with her for years assembled. There was a mighty cry by one and it was answered by others. Soon the moans, utterances of distress and sadness filled the air. Slowly No Tag’s body was removed from where it was that she had passed. The crowd followed, some jostling to be first in line and the rank and privilege of their numbers sorted itself out.

On the way to the resting place the old ones soon tired but there in the front were the “girls”. Perhaps not sure why they were there but together they marched until the bend in the trail.

As if to say a final goodby, they together stopped and watched, they moved away. At first slowly and then in recognition that death is a celebration of life, they kicked up their heals and ran to rejoin their friends.

There would be another day.


No Tag was one of the original cows I bought from Bill Manning. While others wore their tags without a care, No Tag always seemed to lose hers. Her ears were pierced with multiple holes bearing evidence of having had tags and lost them. Following a hearty feeding of concentrate and then hay, all the cows found a place for slumber. Such it was that No Tag met her fate. She bloated. The rumen bacteria produced methane gas and her sides swelled until she found herself in a position where she could not get her feet underneath her swollen body. As cows do they extend their neck and try to use it as leverage, but to no avail.

Brimmer for he was of brahma genetics had socialized with the cows across the fence and seeing No Tag’s distress came to her side. The other cows had moved away but Brimmer chose to sit within a few feet of No Tag and waited. Soon the pressure of the gas in her rumen prevented her lungs from taking in air. Carbon dioxide built up in her blood stream and she entered a peaceful sleep.

No Tag had died, and Brimmer rose and walked away.

I watched from a distant and then attached a woven belt to her hind legs and began to move her to the burn pile that is far away from the barn and cowpens. When the cows saw what I was doing they ran to be with us. One cried out and soon the entire herd was there mooing, bellowing and making noise of sadness.

They followed some pushing to the front of the line others lagging behind until the entire herd with the exception of one that was in the throes of birthing could not follow. Soon the girls, five yearling heifers that had been together since birth lead the group.

As I turned the corner, with No Tag being dragged along, The girls stopped. Watched. Then in a group, they kicking up their heels, raced back to rejoin the herd.

The celebration of Life was ended. Cows know.


This is the second cow I have lost to bloat this winter season.


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