Sanders: Cow cuddling
In agricultural circles there is the term “value added,” which means you can gain more income from the product, besides the end point financial gain. In other words, after you shear your sheep, you spin the wool and sell it in skeins or you use it to knit items for sale. You are adding value to the basic crop of wool. Corn farmers might make small packages of corn still on the cob and sell it as squirrel feed or perhaps burn shelled corn in their corn stoves. Many fine bouquets include stalks of wheat and wheat-based wreaths can be exquisite. Value added could also mean renting out animals for recreation.
A recent trend for yoga practitioners has been the inclusion of goats or cats in the yoga groups. The animals roam around the people, stop and sit on whomever or whatever they wish. Apparently it is the bonding with nature that makes it intriguing.
Most of us have seen at a county fair or a large animal show where the cattle are lying in their stalls sleeping, and frequently a young person is stretched out sleeping on the side of the critter. Fast forward to the millennial era — and clever entrepreneurs.
The Mountain Horse Farm in upstate New York has a program offering the “Horse & Cow Experience.” It is designed to help alleviate anxiety and other mental health issues. For just $300, an individual can have for a 90-minute cuddle with a cow or horse. There is the option of grooming or playing with the animal. Most ranchers do not have cows that will cooperate, but 4-H livestock members — here is a chance to rake in extra dough. When you have gentled and halter broken a bovine, you have a gold mine at hand.
As the Mountain Horse Farm website states, “Cows have a body temperature that is slightly higher than humans and their heart rate is lower than ours. Cuddling up with a cow, feeling that lower heart rate and higher body temperature is very relaxing.”
Without thinking about the physiological facts, anyone who has cuddled with a cow or horse would likely agree.
Part of the bucolic nature of this activity is the fact that practitioners are required to go to the farm where the cattle are. The cows do not make house calls. Just being out in the country would be a good start on becoming less stressed with life. The quiet is calming, the surroundings are generally peaceful and the farm is definitely a change of pace for the city dweller. If serenity is needed, the cow cuddling could give it to you — unless you are afraid of large animals. That would present an entirely new set of problems.
4-H members might consider this to be a “cash cow,” (pun intended) as they could allow others to snuggle with their calves or cows, for a price. That would be value added, for sure. ❖