Free Write Friday – and the Cow Says…

Belle the Baldy

I have recently fallen hard for a wonderful blog called Magic in the Backyard by a very talented Southern writer, Kellie ElmoreThe blog is also the title of her first book due to be released in 10 days. I came to WordPress with the intention to write a book and I am inspired by the number of people who are out here and succeeding at this unconventional method.

Kellie has a wonderful component of her blog called Free Write Friday where Kellie posts something on the subject of the day and we as fellow writers blog on that subject without stopping, without correcting punctuation or grammar to see where the free-flow of ideas will take us. I am going to participate in this today and I will follow the rules. All of my grammarian readers out there I always appreciate your edits and if you wouldn’t mind refraining today whilst I complete this exercise.

Todays FWF is …and the cow says. I am even going to write this before I eat breakfast so God knows what is coming. I hope you all will find something to take with you here and please consider joining the party as there are no rules on timing or which post suggestion you attempt.


You… are a cow.

You, the cow, have a story to tell.

Chew on that a minute then…

tell me something good.

Elsie came to Grasshopper Ranch in 1985. I didn’t think much of Elsie at first as she never seemed a fit for life on the Ranch. When the trailer arrived with the newbies, fish as we call them, the girls and I mad bets on which one of these Colorado cows would breakdown first. I had my money on Elsie. She was lean, taller than the others and seemed unsure of her own gait. Life on a ranch could be difficult for a cow that grew up just a mile down the road, but for a cow from Colorado life on a ranch in Texas was often too much to bear.

I don’t think politics ever crossed her mind though, but I know the heat did. Being a cow who could get things I figured old Elsie would be saddling up to me soon. The flies in summer were like anti-aircraft fire and those without the tails to swat these pests of pestilence would be in for a long 5 months.

Elsie’s tail was short and without the usual fan of hair on the end and the girls and I knew she would moo out in the evening when the flies got to be too much.

That first night the biggest cow of the new herd mooed deep into the night, but Elsie never made a sound. She kept to herself and with methodical rhythm like a metronome her sallow little tail swayed to and fro. I could not help but wonder how she grew so adept,but there were many things about Elsie I would grow to understand over the years and eventually none of them surprised me.

The Rancher and his goons came down the next morning to prepare the new herd to join with us. Their needles and contraptions of torture set off the usual scuffling of hooves, moos, and falls. The Rancher was not a man of God but a man of the town. We all could tell he was good to us and we got to graze where so many others were only fenced and watching the best grass go to the pretty horses.

I remember that first day after the release, how Elsie sat along the fence and just watched the horses dance in their way. I took my time to observe the new herd over the next few days during feeding, watering, and especially during herding with the little satan of a dog charlie. What the hell can we do with this little monster nipping at our heels cried one of the newbies. Elsie spoke up and said, “we follow their rules but we create our own paths. we are not here in Grasshopper because we are considered extraordinary, we are we here because we are considered tasty”

No one ever mentions “the day” around grasshopper, no one. But Elsie did and she  knew why, because Elsie had no intention of staying here at Grashopper.

I knew then it was time for me to say hello. I walked up to the fence where Elsie stared out at the horses and spoke

Angus – I hear your name’s Elsie

Elsie – you hear many things?

Angus – more than I want to

Elsie – you seem like a woman who knows how to get things

Angus – I have been known to come up with a few things; corn cobs, fermented cud, fly paper, a..

Elsie – do you know what bolt cutters are?

Angus – I may have seen a few lying round when the goons are working on the fence. You think you can just cut the fence and run from here?

Elsie – I never said what they were for

Angus – no you didn’t

I knew Elsie was not like the other Baldies the Rancher had brought to grasshopper. Why even the day the goons cornered here near the watering hole and chased her with their cars Elsie simply avoided and mooed to appear as dumb as the rest of us. At night she kept to herself working on the puzzles in her mind

When I got the bolt cutters she wanted me and old Red the bull helped Elsie to cut the lock on the barn. She never intended to leave Grasshopper she just wanted to make it better.

BY the third night at least 10 of us were in the barn at once playing pool and poker while listening to old Frank Sinatra records on the Victrola. What joy Elsie brought to Grasshopper, but we knew it was too good to be true.

Winter was coming and Elsie’s ways of leisure had brought her weight gain straight to the top. When I tried to tell her that slowing down on the hay was the only way to stay alive, she ignored me.

I think Elsie knew that life for a cow was short and if it was then why not make it sweet.

I had done my best to starve all these years knowing I would not make the cut at the sale barn.

I thought I was the clever cow who would outlive his peers and brag to the world that I am still here.

When Elsie mooed her head goodbye as that old gooseneck trailer pulled out of grasshopper ranch. I knew I would never see my friend again. The goons always got a cut of the sale and on this day the price would be the highest ever.

I know Elsie was the happiest cow to ever leave Grasshopper and some lucky son of a bitch would put a bullet in her today and feed from the flesh of the best friend I ever had.

The next morning in the cover of pre-dawn I took the bolt cutters to the newest section of fence and I cut my way out of Grasshopper. I followed the horse paths the old men would take when they take their preening equines for rides of pleasure. Elsie had shown me these paths in our days watching the fields.

I walked till I couldn’t see any more and cars just ignored me along the road. I lay lain down in the mud of a pond’s edge to cover my brand and I ripped my ear tag off on a long metal fence joint.

I assumed they would find me after a while. I didn’t care. Today my life was finally going to be about me and I was so glad to know the end would come soon

It did not. A petting zoo is not exactly Valhalla for a cow, but for the 16 hours each day the humans are not here it is one of the best places once could be.

As the last toddler leaves my back each day I think of Elsie and I smile. She came to grasshopper with an exit strategy and it worked. Sure, she was sirloin for a plumber, and a fillet for a banker. Her beautiful white face was sullied with her own iron-rich blood as she convulsed in her final throes. I like to believe she never felt a thing and that I will always remember her like I did that morning before she broke the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.


  1. says

    How did you write this without editing? I it is way too good.
    Yesterday I wrote a post about my last visit to the dentist. When I read it last night it was full of repetition and unwieldy sentences! I would do this, but it would be too humiliating…I was an art major after all.

    • says

      Hey, I was a theater major. It was so hard for me not to fix this..errors feel like little splinters in my fingers…ugh! I wrote normally from stream of consciousness and I type slowly as I think so I believe that may help me a bit. I want more than anything for readers to get lost in my work and errors break the 4th wall to me. There is even an error in the ultimate paragraph so this assignment is very good for me to let go of control a bit :-)
      How was your Dentist visit?

  2. says

    OH MY GOSH!!!!! This totally reminds me of one of my favorite moooovies lol, Shawshank Redemption…but with cows! and Morgan Freeman is my FAVORITE actor of all time and this piece is now on my list of favorite blog posts ever! So happy you decided to write for this prompt! I was fearful that it might be so "cheesy" that no one would want to do it but, I have been completely taken by surprise at all the great storytelling that has come from it!
    I will be featuring this one on my Facebook Fan page! Congrats! Oh and thank you for the sooo sweet compliment at the beginning of the post and I must say it had NOTHING to do with my decision. You have my word. (and I'm from the south, so you know it's good.)


    • says

      First of all, I am so honored you would feature me on your Facebook page. Now, for full disclosure I have quite a memory for dialog and AMC has been playing Shawshank every night this week :-) Seriously, I just read an excellent blog post about being a good thief versus a bad thief and this I hope keeps me on this side of plagiarism. Morgan Freeman is one step below Jesus Christ in my book and in fact his narration was the impetus for Angus (a cute name for a female I thought). Frank Darabont who directed Shawshank is the producer of The Walking Dead another show about the south I admire :-)
      Did you know that the last line of the piece I also paraphrased from Ronald Reagan's eulogy for the Challenger astronauts? Now I will say that I 100% wrote the piece without stopping to even get a drink of water or make a single edit…which I hope still qualifies me for your praise and support.
      10 days till your book, you must be beside yourself :-)

      • says

        are you kidding me? that makes it even more worthy of the praise considering it is a true free write piece! I envy your skill as to be able to pull off such a great work with no editing! How awesome!

        Thanks for sharing the process of how this was birthed and the behind the scenes factoids about certain lines :) Love that kinda stuff! =)

        • says

          I am so relieved :-) I certainly felt like I was right on course but would hate to shirk the rules on my first foray into your very cool endeavor.
          I think my years of silly rap, impromptu lyric changes to radio songs, and spontaneous character creation from human observation lend themselves to this kind of thing. I also think that it is very easy to over think which makes this kind of exercise wonderful. Of course there are tangents I left unattended in this story because of no re-write..I just told another reader I may write a treatment from this and send it to Dinsey or Pixar :-) I love cows. I took that photo on the actual Grass Hopper ranch in Garret, TX just this January. My high school friend is the rancher and he is an amazing guy

  3. says

    Wow. I absolutely love this piece! The story is beautiful and I can really imagine this being a cow's life. Except for the bolt cutters.. that I can't see. 😛
    But an amazing story nonetheless for a tough prompt! (:

    And as for gramatical errors? I don't remember encountering any..!

    Amber. xx

    • says

      Amber, I am so glad you did! Yeah, the cows and the bolt cutters was inspired by the famous painting of the cows playing cards. I dont remember the artist I just imagined them in this barn (a barn I actually know and a real ranch in Texas) sitting at the card table, drinking a beer and smoking a few cigars. When I finished writing I thought I might send it to Disney as a treatment :-)

      I will be checking out your work as well and thank you again for saying hello!

  4. says

    i think that looks like fun. in my classroom i used to do a writing exercise called "pass the story." each kid gets a piece of paper. i give them the first sentence. might be something like this: "joe was walking past the house that all the kids in town said was haunted." that's it. they write that, and then they write one more sentence. then they pass their paper to another kid in a regular routed rotation, each time reading the paper given and then adding a sentence that follows what someone else had begun. some kids do a good job, add drama, and some kids just get silly and write, "and then joe farted." those kids get beaten. once each kid gets his/her own paper back again, they've got five minutes to read everything on their original paper and then bring it to a conclusion. then i pre-read them and decide which i want to read to the class. it can be fun.

  5. Christi Blakely says

    TBA you could write about anything and make it entertaining. I always enjoy your stories. This is an awesome idea to just write what comes to you and not go back and edit, it really opens up endless possiblities. :)

  6. says

    This was wonderful, TBA :) I absolutely love cows- not so much the eating them but their personalities in my mind. And you captured exactly what I think happy cows should be… loved it! And I'll give Kellie a visit!

  7. says

    I love this post! My most favorite pet from childhood was Rex, my steer. He was the sweetest white face cow that I treated like a dog. I can't wait for your book!

  8. says

    Our weather was a little piece of heaven today. A rare sunny and 57. Although, I wouldn't know how it felt as I was teaching darling teenagers how to prepare Mexican food. I promise, I'm not the least bit resentful. :)

  9. says

    This is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this conw's story. It is refreshing to see the fattening and slaughter of the cow from the animal's perspective.

  10. says

    Belle the Baldy reminds me of one of our cows, Molly. Excellent story as usual and makes me happy that Molly, as well fed as she was, lived a long life grazing in the fields behind my parents house. We also had a cow called Caramel, she was an escape artist and often as children we would have to lead her home from the neighbours after one of her adventures and she managed it all without wire cutters :-)

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