Friday, February 15, 2013

What If

What if in a suburban neighborhood a block of neighbors decided to pool their backyards. Then they could have a cow, maybe only a small cow, and then each household could help tend the cow. Even Violet gives about 2 gallons on average a day, which is plenty for one family. Maybe each household would have to compromise and take only a gallon. Or maybe, everyone would see that the benefit was more important than complete equity in milk distribution. Perhaps, the resulting calf- there is always a calf when you're keeping a cow in milk- could be turned into ground beef and shared equally. Imagine a neighborhood where the people were producers instead of only consumers.

Sure, sure, there are logistical problems, and anyone who has been in a cooperative knows the work will not be divided evenly. But again, maybe the benefits would be more important than the headaches.

What, you may be wondering, would be the benefits?

1. Fresh, raw, unhomogenized milk. For the squeamish, they could pasteurize it themselves. This is a benefit beyond the ken of most people today. Most of the things done for "safety" regarding milk are actually more closely linked to shelf life.

2. A relationship with a cow. Cows are good for people; they make you be calm because you're going to lose if your bad attitude irritates the 1200 pound cow.

3. Nice, lush, low-maintenance lawns. Cows are good for grass and they will mow it just right, given proper handling.

4. A reason to work things out with your neighbors. Now, if your neighbor is annoying you, the easiest solution is avoidance. When you and that annoying neighbor are sharing a cow, you're going to have to face those issues and find solutions. That's better for the whole world.

5. A reason to be outside. Cows require some work, and most of it cannot be done sitting on your butt watching television. So, at least once a week, you'll have to go outside a couple of times and commune with the cow, or at least make sure she has food and water and has been milked.

6. Closer link to nature. Cows have less mediating their relationship with nature, so when working with a cow, you become more attuned, as well. Cold has more meaning when someone you care about lives outside. Heat, too, is more significant if it triples the amount of water you must haul. What exactly is growing underfoot takes on significance when it will appear on your OWN table in the form of milk.

I cannot see this happening with ordinances and what not, but wouldn't it be amazing if someone out there could make it work. Even one successful neighborhood cow could start a movement.

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