From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Packs of Cows

Life in Christian County, Kentucky...



I talked to my elderly neighbor on the telephone this afternoon. For Isaac's Eagle Scout project, the Boy Scouts will be cleaning the old cemetery where her grandparents are buried. The first workday will be next Saturday, and we were talking about where the Scouts might camp that night.

Ms. M. explained that it wouldn't be a good idea for them to camp on her farm. She's seen so many copperhead snakes there over the years that she's afraid someone might get bit, and her son who lives on the place says that the cows have started to run in packs. She doesn't know if they would attack anyone or not, but she doesn't want to take a chance.

When I hung up, I told Dennis that Ms. M. had cows on the farm now and that they were running in packs. He gave me a funny look and commented that usually groups of cows were called "herds", not "packs."

Later in the evening, I went over to Ms. M.'s house to get a package she had for me, and she wanted to talk some more about the Scouts' camp-out. She said it made her mad that the wildlife people had ever released those cows here -- and finally, I understood.

It's not cows that are running in packs on her farm. It's cowts! Coyotes, that is. (I'm relieved!)

Actually, Ms. M. was pronouncing the word as I do (kī'ōt') but with the accent of this area. I just wasn't listening carefully!

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2 comments:

Patrushka said...

That's a good one! I loved the picture of a pack of cows! Accents can be funny, or get people into trouble, as any language-learner knows. You think you are commenting on the weather and either everyone in the room laughs hysterically, or someone pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot - you've just grieviously insulted his grandmother!

Genevieve said...

How nice to have you visit, Patrushka. Yes, I've made my share of stupid statements in German and Spanish, I'm sure. I always felt like I was talking all the way around what I wanted to say!

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