Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Real Live Teddy Bear

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

It was the sixth day of our photography vacation to southeast Ohio in the spring of 2009. As Joann was photographing the S&K Dairy Cup, I was back at the car, picking out our next destination. As I was studying the map, I noticed what looked like a teddy bear racing around in the pasture behind the buildings we were parked in front of.

It would run to its mother, around in a circle, and then tear back across the pasture. I picked up my binoculars to get a better look. I couldn’t believe the antics and watched it for probably 15 minutes as it ran around and around the pasture. Just before Joann got back to the car, it must have finally gotten all tuckered out, and it followed behind its mother as they moved to another part of the pasture.

As Joann was putting away her camera equipment, I told her what I had seen. I asked if we could drive down the nearest side road to check if we could see them from that road. They were there in the pasture, but we couldn’t get a good look at the small calf. I just kept telling Joann how much they resembled teddy bears.

Joann identified the breed as Highland Cattle. She has a field guide to cows and is much more familiar with breeds than I am. We added seeing a young Highland calf to our wish list for the trip and continued on our way.

Later that afternoon as we followed our route, we came upon an old shed with rusty old soda signs. There was a Canada Dry Spur soda sign. We didn’t remember ever having Spur when we were younger, but we had to get photos of the sign.

There was also a rusty sign for Nesbitt’s Orange Soda. We couldn’t remember the brand of orange soda we drank when we were young, but we drank a lot of flavored sodas including orange and red pop. We were allowed one glassful per week with our popcorn while we watched Bonanza on Sunday nights. We also drank as much soda as we wanted when we attended family weddings where they always had free soda.

As Joann finished photographing the shed and the old signs, she put her equipment back in the car, and then asked me if we were near any parks to have lunch. Checking the map, I couldn’t see anything along our route. Then Joann happened to glance around and noticed that the cemetery we were parked in front of had a picnic table under a covered area. We didn’t know why there would be one picnic table in the cemetery, but it was convenient for us, so we pulled into the parking lot and had our lunch there.

Farther down the road we came upon a pasture with some Highland Cattle milling around. As Joann was getting her camera out of the backseat, I noticed a calf lying next to the water tank. It was resting there as its mother ate grass across the pasture. Since Joann hadn’t seen the calf, she approached the fence, and suddenly the calf became aware of her, jumped up, and ran for its mother. Joann managed to get a few pictures as the calf ran.

When it got to its mother, it turned around and gave Joann a look as if to say “you can’t get me now – my mom will protect me.” We later found out from the owner of these cattle that the calf’s name was Dogwood. Martin sent us feedback saying, “Tonight I googled ‘highland cattle pike county ohio’ and was surprised to find photos of my cattle on your web site. They must have been taken this spring, as the big red cow (Sabrina) had that little red calf (Dogwood) in late April during the Dogwood Festival.”

After we got home from that vacation, I looked up the local Highland cattle farms and we drove several roads hoping to see more. On one of the roads, we were almost to the end, and I thought we had missed the cattle. We did stop to photograph an old barn and when Joann came back to the car, she said the cattle were lying along the fence.

And just the other week, as we left Joann’s house to go and photograph some winter scenes, we noticed that a farm just down the road had all of their Highland cattle out in the pasture. They were sitting and standing around the pasture, and didn’t seem to mind us stopping to photograph them.

They didn’t mind, that is, until Joann whistled to get them to look her way. They apparently are easily spooked, and they all ran toward the barn. Oops!

Now we know one more thing about Highland Cattle. Unlike Holsteins who run toward the camera and horses who will look toward you when you whistle, it’s best to just quietly photograph the Highland cattle, and wait patiently for them to look toward you.

Enjoy the backroads and watch the pastures for different kinds of cattle. Maybe you’ll see a real live teddy bear just like we did.

Happy shunpiking!

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