Wild Beastie Domestification
Wholesale domestication started around 11,000 years ago, according to the latest thinking. 11,000 years ago is only a few generations after plant farming had begun. Taming various wild prey animals -- sheep, bees, duck, goats, guinea pigs, llama, cattle –– could not have been easy; go face down a white goose or a tom turkey and then let's talk about, say, a water buffalo.
I'm not exaggerating. The first cows in Europe, aurochs? Seriously, the stuff of nightmares: 1500 lbs of leggy temper, six feet tall at the shoulder and a horn-span of up to seven feet. Categorically NOT tame. The last specimen of the species lived until 1627 in the forests of Poland. She died in the interest of steak, not so surprisingly.
I just wonder at the gall of the first person to put a thieving hand upon the hairy udder of a wild cow. What could possess a person to try? A dare, maybe? Or maybe impelled by a rescue effort –– a calf or a human baby who needed that milk enough to risk the effort? Some dramatic extremity, no doubt.
Unnatural selection has led from these wild and wooly forebears come the sweet-tempered Jerseys and Gurnseys, and those homey black-and-white gold standards of milk production –– Holsteins.
Me? No, I don't want another cow in my life. I know the ways of young Holsteins from many a winter's day dealing with scours in a veal calf. And there was a year or so when my mother and I swapped the care of a hairy herd of Highland cows for the rent of an old farmhouse. Small cattle, Highland cows, but feisty.
Anyway, enough cattle for my lifetime.
But goats, now, huh. Goats...
3/23/2016 10:41:35 am
I suspect that the domestication of large animals started with the capture of small, weaned young ones after successful killing and eating Mom. That way both the young animal(s) and the human "handlers" could become accustomed to each other as the calf, for example, grew to full size. I'm confident that this experiment had to be repeated over and over before success, as we recognized it, appeared.
3/24/2016 10:27:29 am
Sounds plausible. So many happy accidents along the way...
3/23/2016 06:32:18 pm
Goats are good, they are tough, fun to watch, and can clear land as good as a small tractor. I won't be milking any however. Been there done that, got the horn.
3/24/2016 10:28:39 am
Good on you! I have not milked a goat, though I have a good story about a vet-school buddy who milked a billy-goat to humorous effect...
manon des chevres
3/24/2016 07:55:16 am
Have always way enjoyed other people's goats. Ferrets with hooves. Atop fences, tree branches, shed roofs. They eats stuff too, like your shirt tail or sweater sleeve. friendlyfarm.com always penned the bigguns but the tiny ones tune up visitors and each other, no problem!
3/24/2016 10:33:05 am
Manon -- friendlyfarm.com sounds like a ball. Clean and agreeable surroundings, sounds like Virginia Woolf's ideal place.
3/24/2016 08:22:47 am
The world would be a poorer place without Feta cheese.
3/24/2016 10:47:09 am
3/24/2016 11:08:42 am
Sister, you're preaching to the choir.
3/24/2016 11:10:20 am
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