Seems a bit obtuse of a question and one that may leave you asking why?   Forget the why for a second and focus on the “would you” portion.  The cow won’t ask to go sailing, so it’s up to you to answer the question.  Consider that cows can see color and smell from almost six miles away, but their communication and navigation skills in a sailboat are of doubtful value.  Well…that’s not fair to say, as I have not personally sailed with a cow.

The logistical questions to make it a reality are plenty.  What sort of sailboat will best manage a cow’s weight, food and water requirements? Consider that cows drink almost a bathtub of fresh water per day. They also eat roughly 40 pounds a day.  After chewing and drinking there are, well, let’s just say, “byproducts” – what to do with the volume of them on a sailboat?

If you are still thinking that maybe you could take a cow sailing, I like your style.  If you are in, let’s level up with a follow-on question: Would you take a cow sailing for a quick tour of the Chesapeake Bay or are you all in? By all in, I mean all in for a transatlantic crossing with a cow on a sailboat?  I know, that’s a whole new ball of wax, right?

Don’t vex yourself too much thinking about this. It’s an easy question to answer. That, and it’s been done. Yes, people long before you decided to load cows into sailboats and cross the Atlantic Ocean with them. Who and why? If you are a 4-H dairy family, you already know.

Cows were not indigenous to North America.  The first (recorded) dairy cows arrived in the colonies of Jamestown in 1611 (1624 at Plymouth).  If you are contemplating this and now feeling bad that you probably would not have taken a cow sailing, it’s OK, I understand.

It’s easy to take for granted the myriad of sacrifices and blessings laid before us on this Thanksgiving Day. Take, for example, the butter on your Thanksgiving table and used in your holiday cooking.  More than likely the cream that yielded your butter came from a cow’s milk. Perhaps from a cow with ancestors who went sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. There’s often a grander sense of daring and caring behind so many of the things that we often take for granted.

Thanksgiving is a good time to come together and give our collective thanks over a meal and know that even if you would not have taken a cow sailing, you can still enjoy using (real) butter in America that’s tied back to the pioneers who did take a cow sailing.

Side bar:

CT_2016-11-24_Cow in boat

Editor’s Note: After reading Jeffery’s column I couldn’t help but do a bit of searching and found this delightful image of a cow, while not sailing, clearly in a boat.

A cow arrives in Cowes

The Isle of Wight town, called Cowes, was reclaimed in the Victorian times by farmers as a brand new holiday resort for the bovine population.

Originally named Shamblord, the town was renamed in the early 1600s after a cow got stuck in sandbanks between the west bank and the east bank at the northern edge of the island. The cow did not survive, but the name, like the cow, stuck.

Initially the land had been densely populated with woodlands, but as the woods were cleared to make boats to travel to and from the mainland, the grasslands took over; this was the perfect land for cows.

By the mid 1800s, all across the UK, many Victorians were seeking waters to bathe in and places to relax. The increase in tourism throughout the UK led to increased sales in ice cream and cream teas, placing a heavy burden on the dairy farmers of the day, and the cattle they farmed.

By 1870 it was felt that after years of getting up at 3 a.m. to produce milk to feed the addictions of a seaside generation the UK could afford to subsidise an annual holiday for the dairy herds in order to give rest to their udders.

Cowes, in tribute to the cow who had perished in the 1600s, was chosen as the perfect bovine destination. So each year, in the first week of August, cows arrived by boat from the mainland, docking in the town to let the heroic cows of the dairy world relax and find amoosment.

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