If you travel from one side of Florida to the other, especially if you cross the center of the state, you will see cows. What kind of cows? Black and Red Angus, Brahman, Red Poll, Hereford or Simmental stock – or possibly hybrids of these. If you’re super-duper lucky, you might see some small, horned speckled cows. These are called Cracker cattle. Spanish conquistadors brought this breed to South Florida (there are Cracker horses, too, but I will save them for another blog). And when the Spaniards got sick or killed or turned back, the cows escaped. They went wild and thrived. Sometimes Indians raised them. These animals evolved into hard-ass little cows, the kind that repel heat and bugs, although they’re probably still brought down by rattlesnakes and lightning. There are organizations and ranchers out there right now who track and breed and attempt to preserve rare purebred Cracker cattle. Well done.
I like taking photos of Florida cows. I honk at them, too, but they don’t look up. I’ve been honking at cows since I could drive. Try it sometime. They don’t mind. In fact, the only thing that a cow will notice is a person out of his or her vehicle. Cows are used to tens of thousands of cars passing them – no big deal. But they aren’t used to humans in the middle of freakin’ nowhere standing by their fences. Oh yeah, this will get their stupid attention. But watch where you walk. A mound of fire ants can ruin your day.
Book recommendation: A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith. This novel describes 100 years of survival for a family of Florida pioneers (and some gnarly Florida pioneer ways of dying) who attempt to round up and move Cracker cattle across the state for export. This is one of my favorite books.