Gratitude is a cow




I recently went to visit my Mum on the family’s farm.  I noticed Mum head down to the paddock for the 3rd day in a row just before sunrise with a bucket of chaff and an old milking stool.  Curious as to why she wasn’t bringing the cows into the yard for milking I asked her “Mum why are you walking half the paddock to greet the cows every morning?  Shouldn’t they be coming to you?”

Mum looked at me with a half grin and said “I’m off to talk to my girls, they give me the answers I need for the day and don’t judge me if the day doesn’t pan out the way it should.”  I thought she had gone mad talking to a herd of cows, however shook my head and wished her well.

Later when she came in, Mum informed me that she does her walk to the paddock every morning.  I again asked her why?  Mums answer was “Cows aren’t just an income you know.  For me it’s the company first thing in the morning before the chores start, the calves bring me entertainment frolicking around each other, I get exercise going to greet them, they don’t judge me when I talk to them and sometimes I come up with the answers I need and most of all I think they appreciate my efforts.”  I sat there stunned.  Surely the cows aren’t grateful for the early morning chat and a treat of chaff before milking?

Thinking about the cows in the paddock, there is a variety of things I am grateful they bring.   The cow gives us a diverse range of products:  dairy delights such as yoghurt, cream, milk, cheese and butter to name a few.  The cow can be butchered for its meat including their organs. Their cow hide can be used for various decorative or fashion accessories e.g. belts and floor rugs to name a few.  The cows bring me memories of my Mum’s home and a sense of connection to the land.

With my Mother’s conversation in mind I sat down at the computer to investigate whether cows are grateful creatures.   I came across a clip from You Tube which depicts a cow touching hay for what must have been the first time in a long time and jumping for joy for the freedom it is currently experiencing.  The delight in the cow’s movements is obvious to observe.  The cow making a connection with the man at the end of the clip indeed shows the cow displaying gratitude.

Maybe Mum’s walk to the cows every morning is one of her practices of gratitude.   It’s evident from our conversation, that it is a moment in time Mum can be at one with her animals that bring her emotional comfort and connection to her livelihood.  Howells (2012, p. 103) states “Our expressions of gratitude unite us with others by causing us to acknowledge, recognise, celebrate, become calm and connect.”

Reflecting on Mum’s morning routine,  the daily practice of gratitude and the mindset it creates by being conscious of our inner attitude and practice brings Howells (2012, p. 104) statement to the fore front of my mind “By consciously choosing to start our day with gratitude, we are creating conditions that ward off resentment.”  Gratitude today is indeed a cow!!

The Jewish proverb “All is not butter that comes from the cow” certainly takes on new meaning.  🙂



Howells, K. (2012). Gratitude in Education: A Radical View, Sense Publishers.
Cow Literally Dances For Joy And Shows Man Gratitude After Being Freed From Tiny Stable:

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