How do you tell one cow from another?
This is what my husband (a city boy) asked as we passed a field full of cattle today. I'd mentioned something about them being Hereford. "How do you even know that?" he asked. I don't think a farm girl actually has to learn the difference between a Hereford, a Holstein, an Angus, a Charolais, or a Brahman; we just know. How can you tell a Dachshund from a Chihuahua from a Beagle?
That made me think of how you can tell the difference between individual cows. Well, a farmer just knows certain cows by their personalities, but generally they put ear tags in their ears. I hated watching this process. It was like watching my dad pierce their ears only it seemed awfully painful. You can see that these ladies actually did have their ears pierced, but I decided that a big yellow tag with a number on it didn't get to be a part of the painting. (Ahhh... the power of the almighty artistic license!)
What I really, really wanted to do in this version (I painted it once before and wrote about that earlier this year. - Go have a look at the first "We'll Just Have Salad") was to give these ladies real earrings... yep, silver dangly ones! (Go back and read ":) Sisters" and see about those silver dangly earrings!)
My friend Shelley asked me to paint these gals for her. She is one of those kindred spirits or forever friends. We're of different generations, from different places, lead different lives, and I see her less than once a year... but when we do see each other, there's so much to catch up on, so much mirrored in our ways of thinking. So somehow during this process, I began to think of the two of these cows as the two of us. (She would be the tall, elegant, lovely reddish one... hmmm... I wonder if that's why she ended up much more blonde than the real cow was... And, I'd be the short, stocky... and is she graying in the painting?... one out front.) We... I mean THEY do look as if they are completely annoyed to be bothered and just want to get back to visiting with each other about whatever it is that cows talk about.
You see, I bought a pair of those dangly silver earrings for Shelley. She told me that she wears them when she needs inspiration, feels feisty, or wants to feel brave. I feel the same way about my pair. So... don't you see how it was very hard not to put earrings on these cows!