One of the first questions I get from many people when they find out I have cows is: “do all the cows have names?” The short answer is “No. They have numbers.”
If you read this blog regularly, though, you know that some of them have names; we’ve even asked for your help in selecting some names. When I first visited the farm, only one cow had a name: Cupcake. She is a story for another day, though.
As I started helping with calves, several of them started picking up names. The timing is probably coincidental. One of the first was Sparky, number 1062. She was a really active calf, and it just came out one day as she was attempting to eat the hose I was using to give her group water. Another calf born about the same time was number 1068, Buttercup. When moving her to a pen she tried bucking and running. David said something like “whoa there Buttercup”, and it stuck, kind of. She went by Buttercup for several months, but now, as a milk cow, she’s just “1068”. Sparky, on the other hand is still just “Sparky”.
Many of the calves that got names were favorites, but that’s certainly not to say that a cow or calf without a name is not a favorite. Number 1099 is due to calve next week. When she was 2 days old she tried to take me (as in ran at me with the intention of trampling me). It was adorable, and she’s been one of my favorites ever since. She never got a name, though.
All of the Kuckelcows have names, and we’ve continued to give their daughters names. However, I call HD 100 (the first Kuckelcalf born here, named Zorba) “100”. We actually have two number 27s. One was born here, and one was purchased. They go by “27” and “big 27”. “Big 27 is a purchased Kuckelcow, so she also has a name. It’s Unicorn, but I had to look that up. Although all 38 Kuckelcows came with names, I only know four or five off the top of my head, and we only regularly refer to three by their names.
This post really does have a point, and I’m finally getting to it. I think the people who ask me about the cows names think that a name gives the cows identity and personality. Really, though, what makes a name? Does it have to be a word? Can’t it be a number? When we refer to “1099” an individual animal comes to mind the same way that a different animal comes to mind when we refer to “Sparky”. If we refer to “Buttercup” I think something like “that’s 1068 – right?”
I think the question people are really asking is: “Do you know your cows?” And to that, the answer is yes, absolutely yes. We know them, and we care about them a great deal.