Haute cowture: expensive fashion for cows produced by the leading Swiss fashion houses.
We have officially walked into Switzerland today quite unceremoniously. There were no border or passport control or security to check our rucksacks. We simply walked through a gap in the fence between fields along a country track bounded by green fields, cows, forests and mountains. The only indication that we were entering another country was a small sign and a stone marker letting us know that one side of the marker was France and the other Switzerland.
We have gradually seen over the past weeks the landscape gradually change from golden flat fields filled with crops, to undulating hills mixed with crop land and green pasture, to steeper hills primarily with green pasture and…cows!
Cows and Cow Bells
Yesterday we passed many fields with cows with cow bells. The hills were alive with the sound of music – a symphony of clanging cow bells as the creatures grazed contentedly. We knew then we were getting mighty close to Switzerland.
Below is a video of cows in a field wearing cow bells in Touillon-et-Loutellet, France close to the Swiss border:
The Sound of Music
A few in our posse of pilgrims were concerned about the melodious clanging of the bells on the cow’s health. Were they tone deaf? They were also curious to know why the bells are used.
Below is an audio recording of cow bells I made while I was walking:
My theory is that on the steep slopes when searching for a lost cow it is much easier to hear a cow then have to climb the slope hoping that it is there.
Walking through Switzerland no doubt our questions may be answered in good time.
I have a love of animals and have enjoyed on our journey so far patting many horses. Arthur, a fellow pilgrim laughed at me when I had spoken about my intention of patting a cow. Owning a farm himself, he said you couldn’t possibly get a cow to come near you.
Curiosity Willed The Cow
A couple of weeks ago I had a curious calf approach me. I had a handful of grass I had pulled from the roadside verge. She stood there frozen for some time and then cautiously approached. She sniffed the grass and the moved off in disgust. The grass wasn’t greener on the other side – it still was grass. The haughty cow was letting me know that I didn’t understand the etiquette of haughty cowture.
Today I thought I would attempt approaching a full grown cow. There was no fence so I slowly walked up to her. I didn’t try the handful of grass ploy this time. I just held out my hand. She sniffed it then actually craned her neck and nudged my hand. Progress.
I still have some way to understanding cow cowture, I mean culture. I have a lot to learn about cow etiquette.
How does one act politely in the presence of cows? Is cowtowing to a cow seen in cow cowture as the ultimate form of paying respect? Or does a cow look down you in disdain seeing it as a form of brown cow nosing? (Never insult a cow by underestimate their intelligence!). What is the best gift to present when meeting one for the first time? Do you say ‘how do you do?’, or ‘how do you moo?’.
Also, what is the latest fashion in cow bells? What bells will fashionable cows not be seen dead wearing? What is the ideal size of a cow bell? What about sound? What is the best clang to stand out from the herd?
What about nose rings? I have seen different nose rings on our travels. What constitutes haute culture in cow fashion? We are only getting started, for instance, I haven’t seen any udder rings on cows. Are they seen as to counter cowture? Or maybe there was a fashion of udder rings years ago that I missed and having udder rings is now passé because maybe all the cattle class started wearing them. To be haute cowture means to only want the best custom made fashion, none of this cattle class cheap and nasty fashion.
Many questions. Hope to get back to you with some insightful answers as we traverse the land of cows and cow bells and cowture.
This is David Cuschieri, the official cow reporter here in Switzerland signing off.