1st January 2013
Watching the Detective
It is a mystery that could well have been penned by the great detective writer, Agatha Christie herself- just how anyone could allow a cow to fall into the dire condition of dear Miss Marple. Day after painstaking day, the state of health of the sweet Hereford cross cow had deteriorated to the point where her bony skeletal form could barely muster the strength to walk, let alone to eat. Having dutifully served her human ‘owners’, producing calf after calf, only to have them taken from her and fattened for slaughter, Miss Marple finally succumbed the perils of old age and a tough life. Her last calf payed the ultimate price for its mother’s ill health and lack of milk; we learned it had died just days before we had heard of Miss Marple’s plight.
Upon our arrival, the farmer assured us yet again that the cow identified with a number 5 ear tag in one ear and a floppy blue one in the other, was ‘a little down in condition, that’s all’ and was ‘6 or 7 years old’. We could not help but raise an eyebrow in suspicion. We were shortly to learn that he was in part correct – Miss Marple was 6 or 7, but that was a long time ago. We were tipped off to this fact when our delight in watching Miss Marple hoe into a biscuit of delicious green hay at her new home was tempered by the sight of mushed up green balls of saliva-encrusted grass being slowly spat out. A quick dental inspection revealed pale pink gums, the home of long departed teeth. Determining the age of a cow by her teeth is not an exact science, however in general it is an effective method. Whilst textbooks and ‘culling’ guides show a 12 year old cow would have worn down, triangular shaped teeth, the smooth mouth of Miss Marple showed her to be closer to an incredible twenty years of age.
While suffering many physical woes and eyes that said they had just about given up we heard no ‘fat lady sing’ and we picked up our magnifying glasses as our detective work began to give Miss Marple the best chance of survival we could. Medication was administered to address her systemic infection and potions were mixed to arrest her debilitating diahorrea. And the race was on. As more pages in Miss Marple’s story are turned, her appetite for oaten and lucerne chaff is firm and our hopes are raised. Only days into her rehabilitation and our new friend is flourishing as fresh acquaintances are made during Miss Marple’s daily wanders around the farm. This endearing lady greets each new pal with the enchanting demure so characteristic of the unobtrusive Miss M. The black chapter of her life has closed forever.
Miss Marple is indeed proving to have a likeness to her fictional namesake as she is sharp and clever, having quickly learned where the cows hang out and how to give the most convincing pleading looks and tongue smacking lips to receive bucketfuls of her favourite chaffy mix. That Miss Marple is so friendly, gentle and above all else forgiving, something we firmly believe is attributed not to her debilitated state (although it would be hard to argue it has not substantially dampened her vigour) but rather to the sweet soul who has been held prisoner to a tormented life. Thankful we are that she never gave up hope that one day things would get better. In saving Miss Marple we are doing far more than saving one cow, we are healing our souls that ache in the knowledge we too were at one time in part guilty of condemning innocent creatures like her to life and death, where nothing really mattered, only profits and taste. It is indeed a bitter pill to swallow.
While many people may see cows in paddocks, on a whole they remain strangers to most of us – distant creatures in a bucolic landscape. Yet Miss Marple with her most huggable teddy bear looks is an individual possessed with her own unique and loveable personality. She shows a willingness to explore, a desire to befriend and an appetite for love; of which has so long been unrequited. There is no doubt she will become a firm favourite with visitors to Edgar’s Mission as she happily munches away or stares off into the distance chewing her cud and dreaming happy cow thoughts. Her undying resolve to hang in there despite formidable odds touches our hearts and teaches us to listen to the inner voice that pleads for us to make the connection between what is on our plates and what it means to creatures like Miss Marple for it to get there. The realisation of this sentiment speaks to the goodness within us all who yearn for a non- violent world which really shouldn’t take a detective to unearth.
December 20th 2013