Lula Bell, 24+, passed away this past Monday, February 19, at home. She was preceded in death by her son, John, and her sister, Maw. The family held a private ceremony in the back pasture.
Bell was the last of our Black Angus cows.
Our relationship with farm animals is different from those we call pets. While they may still give us pride and pleasure, they also serve a practical purpose. It was Bell’s job to eat all the grass and greenery she could reach and keep the back pasture free of trees. She enjoyed her job. She spent her life searching for warm places to sit and chew her cud, leaning on fences to test their strength, fertilizing the back pasture, and waiting for the afternoon call to chow.
Over the twenty years we shared together, I learned from her that cows are smart and curious, with distinct personalities despite looking a lot like all the other cows. I learned that she preferred apples to pears and would not hesitate to eat them all from the trees if I left the gate open. I came to understand the fencing was a formality, for even at 1000 pounds she could have cleared a four foot fence if she chose.
I still cannot read this story without my eyes welling up with tears. When I am outside I try not to see the pasture gate that now stands open or the brush pile undisturbed by browsing. Is love measured by the depth of loss one feels?