As promised, an introduction to some of my favorite Burbecke residents: the kühe. Having cows isn’t anything unusual in these tiny villages in the hills of Western Germany – most of the small towns have at least one resident dairy farmer – but these cows are special because they are Georg’s cows. Georg is the son of the dairy farmer in Burbecke and the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. I like to think that he and I share a similar philosophy about cows (though I’ve never asked him): though they’re what the Germans would call Nutztiere, he treats them like pets.
Did you know that all cows have horns – male and female? I didn’t until I was introduced to Georg’s tiny, all-girl herd. He’s the only farmer in the area that allows the females to keep their horns. He’s also the only farmer that has a name for each of them and allows sick calves to recover from a cold inside the house. Each morning he walks them up into the hills to graze and then picks them up and returns them to the barn in the evenings. They know his voice and come running when he calls them.
One of the last times I was in Burbecke, I was lucky enough to assist Georg in moving them to the grassier pasture. I love cows, but as a tiny person with no experience in wrangling cows, I couldn’t really be of much help. This didn’t stop me from running alongside them and pretending – desperately hoping one would wander towards me and let me pet it. No such luck. We finally managed to get them across the hill after many detours – cows really love to wander into the most inconvenient places. Once in their new pen and busy eating, it was much easier to coax them into letting me pet them. It’s only a matter of time before I’ve befriended these ladies and they trust me enough to let me ride them around Burbecke!