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March 21, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Bessie, not so blah

Dangerous cow. The Cattle Thief by artist O. Gail Poole released to PD (

Living dangerously.(You are known by the company that you keep.) “The Cattle Thief” by artist O. Gail Poole (PD /

Why are so many cows named Bessie?

Ours were just called Meat.

Now calling them Bossy would be understandable. Do not stand between a Bos taurus and her hay. Their social graces are, well, a bit rough around the hoof.

Cow moves, however are not totally unfamiliar. 

Ones with horns tend to keep greater distances between themselves and others which results in fewer bumps, bruises, and “you touched me” rages than in hornless cattle mobs. More personal space creates more stable social relationships within any type of herd.

Where’s the connection? Ever seen  middle school kids with their giant backpacks or purses? What works, works.

couple with cow. Benjamin Rabier (, artist life/

“Why must you always try to horn in on personal space? Now apologize to Bessie.” (USPD/

There are standouts in the cow parade. Real celebrity cows who are more than famous for just being famous.

Elsie the Cow would be nothing without the media and her product PR team.

 There are cows with attributes more than just big eyes and a pretty face.

Like Dasher, Dancer, and Prancer of Santa’s famous reindeer team, almost everyone remembers some celebrity cows.

  • Mrs. O’Leary’s fiery tempered cow from Chicago, that hotbed of social change. Rumor is that she was taking a strongly anti-gambling stand.
  • And, of course, there’s the Marvel “Bessie” simply not fitting her mood or fate. No mild milk mannered one was Hellcow as she searched for her blood-thirsty vengeance and diet.
  • Then there was the Bessie who dared step out of her field – possibly protesting the spread of urban development. She cross the line to peacefully raise awareness of cows’ needs and rights only to be met by police. Some say as many as 15 police cars were there, but who knows as they closed the road like in Oregon. Mourned by many.

Elm Farm Ollie was such one bovine supreme.

Oh, Ok, Nellie Jay, the Guernsey cow from Bismark, Missouri, was talked into changing her name –  just like Hollywood starlets. Can’t blame a farm girl for feeling hopefully frisky.

As part of the International Air Exposition in St. Louis, on Feb. 18, 1930, she became the first cow to fly on a plane. Her 72 mile flight from Bismark to St Louis, was touted as “blazing a trail for transportation of livestock by air”.

What a barn burner event.

Cow balloon. (Mav/

Bessie, uh Nellie, would be blown away.(Mav/

WAIT! There’s more! Not only was she the first flying cow, she was the first cow milked in flight! 

It wasn’t just a publicity stunt. Scientists were doing researching concerning the effects of mid-air flight on livestock.  Seriously. They said that.

The 24 or so quarts of milk that were sealed in paper cartons and dropped by parachutes to attendees was simply serendipity.

The fact that Charles Lindbergh was there and drank some milk was purely coincidental.

In any case, Nellie Jay was  quite proper to adopt the nickname of “Sky Queen” after the flight.

Cow over the moon. Edward Cogger Nursery Rhymes:USPS. artist

Inspired so many cows. Both the high flyers and those trouble maker cows who fiddled around stirring things up then taking off before being caught. (USPS/

Not wanting to step on any hooves or toes, Bessie is an informal diminutive form of Elizabeth. A term of endearment.

A name that was in the top 25 most popular names lists from 1880 to 1906.

Famous Bessies include Bessie Coleman, the first African-American aviator, and Bessie Smith, the legendary blues singer (“Empress of the Blues“).

Bessie. No queen could ask for more. (Now you can have a cow about that.)

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

 Bull in art. Gary Halvorston, Oregon State Archives/

Now this is bossy. So was our bull James Arness.(Gary Halvorston,Oregon State Archives/






  1. easyweimaraner / Mar 21 2016 10:08 am

    my grampy once said that he and the guy who ran the farm with him named their 6 cows after their wives(either the first name or the middle names) …my granny spat fire as she read the name plates.


  2. pensitivity101 / Mar 21 2016 10:29 am

    The only cows I knew with names were Daisy and Buttercup. My aunt had the former when I was very young and the latter was her replacement. Aunty used to make her own butter and cheese.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 21 2016 11:25 am

      Daisy seems to be a very popular cow name, too. I always envision a milk cow with a daisy chain necklace. Milk cows who are a productive part of the farm for a long time probably get named more than ones headed to market before they get tough. How we miss all those homemade farm goodies! (Even if making them provided a primitive form of exercise and lots of work!) Thanks for herding a comment this way

      Liked by 1 person

  3. sustainabilitea / Mar 21 2016 11:22 am

    I don’t remember whether my grandparents had names for the cows, but I rather doubt it. I think they were all named “Milk” if female and “Meat” if not. I liked your comparison of cows with horns and students with backpacks. Of course, there are a few students who sport horns as well. They’re just invisible. But they seem to make space as well. And that’s no bull.


    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 21 2016 11:32 am

      Sounds like you’ve seen those pastures. Grinning at your cattle tales. Thanks.


      • sustainabilitea / Mar 21 2016 11:36 am

        Or cattle tails, perhaps? I would like to know why cattle can’t figure out that if they get off the road, it won’t seem as if you’re chasing them in your vehicle. One cow and calf always managed to be on opposite sides, bawling, kicking, and yes, running along right where you want to go. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 21 2016 11:46 am

          Big eyes, mooving with sheer instinct, and illogical responses – so much like middle school HA HA
          (Some must gain wisdom or insight with adulthood – like the bull who would routinely plant himself between the house and the outhouse…and he knew darn well what he was doing…bullying little kids or perhaps an early bullish environmentalist?)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Kate Crimmins / Mar 21 2016 12:36 pm

    Cows seem to get nice girly names. Never heard a name for a bull.


  5. Paul / Mar 21 2016 1:12 pm

    Cows are out of my experience -I’m a city boy.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 21 2016 1:27 pm

      Oh, admit it, you have a secret portrait of Elsie the Borden’s Cow on the carton in your fridge HA HA. That’s where milk comes from, right? (That’s what WIKI says so anyway) 🙂


      • Paul / Mar 21 2016 1:47 pm

        Ha! so they say. 😀


  6. The Hook / Mar 21 2016 2:37 pm

    Come to think of it, there was Comet the Super Horse… but no Super Cow?
    What gives?


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 21 2016 2:40 pm

      Seriously. Only a cow of bad influences? I’m going to have to search for more. There’s got to be bovine equality. Thanks for galloping over to add to the comment feed bag


  7. sportsattitudes / Mar 21 2016 5:48 pm

    I was quite moo-ved by the sight of a flying cow. Finding out she was also milked while airborne certainly makes her the “cream” of the crop.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 22 2016 7:47 am

      Pigs can’t have all the fun with flight. Cows have to horn in on that.
      Ever see a Purple Cow? (Surely those still exist somewhere)
      Thanks for trodding these pastures.


  8. Kirt D Tisdale / Mar 21 2016 6:43 pm

    You took me back to my cousins farm…was trying to remember if they named their cows…..probably not….to them it would be like naming their meals.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 22 2016 7:44 am

      I know a farmer that named his calves “McDonald’s”, “Wendy’s”, “Carl’s”….the moms who brought small city children for hayrides and animals to pet were not amused. Thanks for running through these fields

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Littlesundog / Mar 21 2016 8:53 pm

    I was a little more than upset that the pecan orchard neighbor mooved all of his cattle, including Leonard the bull calf. I understand that Leonard and his mother are doing well, and many of the other cows have calved and Leonard has lots of little friends to frolic with. They may be back later this summer to graze the pecan orchard! I hope so. The woodlands just aren’t the same without the cows!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 22 2016 7:41 am

      While giant sized, cows can be very endearing. A cow herd does make the most lovely sounds – and we enjoyed the way they kept the brush down and snakes tended to leave the area. (We shall not mention the ticks, though). Leonard reminds me of Little Red who was a tiny orphan not expected to live so was taken inside and bottle fed by the fire by sister-in-law. Red was very sweet and never realized he was growing to jumbo size later on in the year. We all tried to warn her he was geting to used to being inside. Eventually, Red was quite sad and distressed when told he needed to move outside with the others…broke down a couple of screen doors and a solid one to get inside where he wanted to chat by the dinner table. Totally unable to convince him he was cattle. Finally he had to be sold to another rancher. (He was quite a handsome bull and very gentle which is pretty rare) Hopefully he met some lovely heifer and settled in politely…we were worried he’d try to follow the trail back to his home. Whew.Thanks for grazing along


  10. angelswhisper2011 / Mar 22 2016 4:06 am

    Bessie is a nice name for a cow, even if she is a he…I have a male name too, while I am a she…MOL 😀 The cows in the Netherlands are known by Clara (= Clair), Bertha and Bella and Hendrik (a real farmer’s name too 😉 Pawkisses for a Happy Spring 🙂 ❤ ❤


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 22 2016 7:33 am

      Clara is also a delightful choice of names. (Clara Belle – as she wore a cowbell). Once in a while you would run across a kid named Hendrik in school when I was there. People give their kids first or middle names common to their families which made reading family histories very interesting with all the connections back for generations and across oceans sometimes. Names should make you smile – for people, cows, and, of course, cats! Thanks for herding the purrfect comment this way


  11. shoreacres / Mar 22 2016 5:58 am

    What? No mention of Belle, the Bluebell cow? Humph.

    I do have a friend who has one other comment to add, about all these cows. He thinks he might be able to be of service. (It wasn’t all grackles out there!)


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 22 2016 7:19 am

      Belle, of course, deserves her own field. No messy Bessie, she. (Thank goodness Blue Bell is back on the shelves – even if limited flavors. RC Cat said nothing else equals their smooth homemade vanilla for her digestion.)
      Loping over to graze on your links. Thanks


  12. jannatwrites / Mar 22 2016 8:19 am

    This was clever and you got me to chuckle a few times. Can’t have a cow about that for sure 🙂 I like cows because they remind me if my grandma. Oh that didn’t sound right at all- she loved cows. At every state fair, she had to go see the cows. I have several colorful Cow Parade figurines that I have in memory of her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 22 2016 8:37 am

      There is something about cows: solid, calm-ish, accepting. Someday it will probably be revealed they are intelligent aliens sent to soothe and nourish the poor idiot humans who can’t seem to graze happily in the fields they are given. Hooves up for Cow Parade! Thanks for mooving to herd a comment this way


  13. Robin / Mar 22 2016 10:34 am

    Very clever post, PhilosopherMouse. 🙂 I can’t imagine why anyone would think flying cows around is a good idea, but there are so many ideas like that floating around. It just seems to lack common sense. Good excuse for a flight, though.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 22 2016 2:06 pm

      Back when aviation was new, people were unsure of what was to come of it or the potential…rather like space flights, I guess.(No cows in space yet, but smaller critters.) How funny the milk cartons were floated down with parachutes. What a spectacle. Thanks fro giving Bessie a saluting comment


  14. pnwauthor / Mar 23 2016 11:16 am

    Several years ago I heard about a cow that escaped from a slaughter house and was found swimming across a frozen river. I wonder if the rescuers named the cow (who would have just had a number up until that point). She was certainly courageous and fiery.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 23 2016 11:24 am

      I hate feedlots. So unnatural. Always yell at them “Stop eating. Run!” Sounds like there was at least one smart one. Hope that Bessie made it to safety. Thanks for herding that tale over here.


  15. Kourtney Heintz / Mar 23 2016 6:24 pm

    I really fell in love with cows back when there was a cow parade in NYC. Lots of cow statues all over the city. It was so cool. Great clever post.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 24 2016 7:24 am

      Artistic cows are so appropriate. Cow certainly have fine tuned the art of peaceful living. Thanks for herding a comment to this pasture


  16. Ally Bean / Mar 23 2016 7:03 pm

    Reading about a cow on a plane I immediately remembered The Muppet Show’s Pigs In Space. It did wonders for Miss Piggy’s career. No wonder Bessie née Nellie was such a hit with the folks.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 24 2016 7:53 am

      Pigs in Space. Loooved that. (Not so fond of the new Muppets show). Wonder what sort of seating arrangement they had on that plane for the cow. A sling? Wouldn’t want one wandering around during take off and landing. Must have been a real moooving experience. Thanks for a real cream of the crop comment


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