Saturday, July 30, 2011

Black Angus munching

Black Angus munching
on a dwindling bale of hay 
look up as I pass

Rain clouds moving west to east, but only a teasing spatter of rain. Brown strips of dead grass on mowed lawns. Farmers are supplementing sparse pasture grass with this year's hay bales. A small herd of Black Angus stand with their heads together around one of the big round bales, pulling out wads of hay, which dangles from their mouths like scraggly beards. Imagine living on grass. Ruminants like cattle are able to accomplish this feat by a complex process of rumination. First step, slowly masticate the mouthful of hay until it disappears into the rumen, the first compartment of the ruminant's four-compartment stomach. Later, regurgitate the semi-digested bolus and chew the cud again. Then swallow the cud and send it to the remaining stomach compartments. The cluster of Black Angus look up briefly as I pass, then go back to their bale. They must be hot in their black coats, but munching lunch is more important right now than keeping cool. After their rumen is full, they'll lie down for a nap in the shade.

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