“Mister Farmer! Mister Farmer! How is it that your cow there has no horns?”
“Well, Ma’am, cows and their horns are an interesting subject. Sometimes a cow never grows horns at all. The scientists are still working on why: it may be the Good Lord just never meant that cow to have ‘em. Sometimes an animal is just so aggressive we have to remove the horns for the safety of everyone involved. And sometimes a couple of animals will get to fighting, or there’ll be an accident, and one horn is damaged. So we have to remove the other horn or just leave the cow to walk with its head lopsided. Now, that particular cow doesn’t have any horns, Ma’am, because it happens to be a horse.”
Our ancestors were more familiar with the animals than we are, simply because the line between city life and country life was not so finely drawn for them. Plenty of city families kept animals around the place, and the rich, who didn’t need to keep a goat in order to get fresh milk, had country estates where they could learn what it was like to be nipped by a horse or have a foot stepped on by a cow.
There are hundreds of cow jokes on postcards out there in the world, and you may wonder why I headed the column with a rather distasteful one. Well, it happens to be one of the most popular cow jokes around: something even a city slicker might understand at once. I’m not sure that justifies…well, look what I found once I looked around.
The cow at the top of this column seems simply to be thinking of the pity of it all, but not every animal in the gallery is so accepting. This lass seems more angry than anything else: either she suspects someone of sneaking up behind her or she has just realized what has happened and is snapping at YOU for thinking anything is wrong in YOUR life.
Whereas Bossy here is simply consumed with self-pity. (Entirely understandable, as the artist has given her a pig’s ears and snout.)
Old Bess is in the same pit of self-pity as her predecessor, but SHE had to cope with a cartoonist who wasn’t quite sure what a cow’s mouth looked like.
The black and white postcard cartoonists tend to be basic: if their publisher couldn’t afford color, they wouldn’t pay for a lot of frills, either. But at least this one could draw a mournful cow.
This is the only concerned cow I’ve found with a sympathetic human onlooker, and I would like to know what was in the artist’s mind when he had this shapely farmer’s daughter leaning forward so her own…next slide, please.
Back to full color, we find our cows getting more frantic: this one, I expect, because she’s so much TALLER than the others.
Tears become more plentiful, and mouths are open wider as our cows object to the mindless cruelty of happenstance. (By the way, just about every cattle raiser I ever knew used the word “cows” almost exclusively. One told me, “We only call ‘em ‘cattle’ if we’re filling in government forms or throwing the bull ay a Cattleman’s Conference.”)
We also see our herd becoming more cartoony, as in this case, where Mignonette here has had her problems made worse by her really huge feet.
Whereas Mootilda, if you can tear your eyes from the basic joke, has truly impressive ears and tail tuft.
And Buttercup has the head and physique of a Great Dane, which makes her predicament that much more painful.
When it comes to trouble waiting to happen, and the symbol of what occurs in our daily lives, though, my vote is for Notelsie here. She has tried to improve herself: those glasses help her when she goes to the library, and she’s obviously put in time at the gym. For she is the only one of our cows who has stepped unfortunately with a forefoot, and not a hind hoof. I am impressed by this cartoonist’s attention to detail, and wonder if he is commenting on life in another way, as his ambitious heroine is in serious pain, while his signature seems to form the handle of a farm implement which is at peace, content to be a hoe
(“Mister Blogger, Mister Blogger, that last joke was a misstep.
“That was the theme of the column, Ma’am.”