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...
About the Blog
A lot of ground gets covered on this blog -- from sailboat racing to book suggestions to plain old piffle.
Trying to keep track? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter or if you use an aggregator, click the RSS option below.
Old school? Sign up for the newsletter and I'll shoot you a short e-mail when there's something new.