cows in the rain

In last weeks post, I spoke of my discomfort in winter weather; the difficulty I have trying to find artistic inspiration in the rain. But as I told you, when looking for pictures I photographed in the cold, rain and snow, I came across a number of old images I thought worthy of sharing. The photographs shown here are part of a set, called ‘Bashan cows’, and were photographed some 30 years ago, on negative film, in northern Israel on a cold and rainy day.


My readers are aware of my love of cats. I have lived with them almost all of my life. I have learned from them, and built lasting friendships with them; more than I could count. But there are other animals as well, that I have learned from and loved. And from early childhood, I have had a very special regard for the Bovinae family, commonly called cows or cattle. I enjoy watching them graze; enjoy their moderate temperament, and learned a bit of meditation in their company.


I first met them on a dairy farm, and afterwards spent time in their company in Switzerland, where they chewed the mountain grasses in summer, without a care in the world, appreciating nature. The voices of cows and bulls have a timber that makes its way to our hearts. And humans who enjoy the company of cattle are known to sing to them. Both in Switzerland and on the grasslands of Texas, in the western US, you can hear cowboys yodeling to these massive four legged domestic animals. And it seems to me, that as much as their herders influence these fine animals, they are themselves influenced by the spirit and the character of the cattle they live with.


Not so long ago, I had a dream in which I’d fallen in love with a cow, and she had come to live with me. Her behavior in my dream was much like that of Nechama my cat, in real life. And when I’d be eating or working at my table, she would jump up on the table, to sit by me. But her weight proved overwhelming for the table, and again and again, the table would be smashed to smithereens, ending flat on the floor as a pile of wood. I would try to explain to my cow that this wouldn’t work, but she would just nuzzle up against me, and assure me that she was motivated by love.


At one point, the carpenter came to repair the table, and I pointed out a large pile of wood on the floor of the salon, telling him he could use any of the wood he found there… explaining that those boards were what remained of three previous tables. When I awoke, I was laughing.


The cows depicted in this series accepted the weather conditions with equanimity. And because of the heavy fog, one sensed their presence more than the details of their features. In art, as in dreams, the message comes through by way of hints, more often than not. Though I have photographed cows many times, in a great variety of circumstances, this series is most loved, because it doesn’t go into the details. It just tells the story by way of impressions.


If you’re interested in seeing the whole series, your welcome to check out the following link, where you’ll find the pictures in larger dimensions. You may enjoy a slide show by pressing the play button at the top of the Flickr page.


66 responses to “cows in the rain

  1. I am fond of cows too. My father was (strange to say that. He just died last week) from a rural hamlet and they had cattle. His relative living there still do. Love the dream. It put me in mind of a video where a girl brings a calf into the house…

    Great pictures

    • My condolences on the loss of your father. I know from my own experience, that no matter at what age they depart, our world is changed, and the sorrow is there, even if we expected it. Thanks for adding the charming video to this post, Olga.

  2. Beautiful post. We can learn so much from our four-legged friends. Stay well, Shimon.

  3. I admire how you find serenity with them, Shimon. Very nice post. Thank you, again….

  4. Cows offer an aspect of serenity.

  5. Beautiful post and such ethereal images…..with that wonderful ‘hint’.
    I love cattle, and spent a lot of time with cows when I lived in Wales….there’s something so soothing and grounding about them…

    Love the dream….love you and love Nechame:) Happy weekend. Janet. xx

    • After a spell of fog and rain and cold, we had a couple of days of sunshine last week, and it was fun to visit with the cows in that light too. As you say, Janet, they are both soothing and grounding. Thank you so much for your good wishes, Janet, and mine to you. xxx

  6. I love these photos, Shimon; the soft mists and veiled atmosphere really lend depth to that gentle peace cows exude, as you mentioned.

    I can hear some cows mooing from down the road when the wind is right (and windows open!), and it’s one of those sounds I love, like children playing, train whistles in the distance, loons on the lake and “my” neighborhood owl…it makes me happy to be alive and able to hear…life music that settles deep in my spirit. This is a lovely, lovely series of photos; thank you!

    And thanks, too, for sharing your dream: how wonderful and rich!

    • I like your description of the sounds of your neighborhood. Living in the city, I’ve grown used to very different sounds. And I can’t say I enjoy them all. But I do like the sounds of the cats calling and carrying on. That’s about the only animal sounds we have here anymore…. that and the birds. It is good to hear the birds. I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been seeing parrots recently. And last week I heard a parrot imitating a cat. It was very funny. You could hear that it wasn’t the real thing, but it was a good imitation. Thanks for your comment, Kitty.

  7. We have cattle ranchers in my family, sold for beef. I’m grateful to them for the work they do, but I’m not sure I could do it. They also had a milk cow, my first taste of fresh milk. I’m lactose intolerant but had no trouble with fresh milk. I also discovered fresh butter. I’m grateful for cows. They’re also soft. 🙂 Thanks for the peaceful post.

    • And thanks for your comment, Judy. I used to love visiting the dairy farm when I was a child. But afterwards, when I saw cows just grazing freely, it was even more impressive. They have a very easy going nature.

  8. I love the effect of mist and fog – we were driving today and the sun was slanting through the clouds on the mist which had collected in the valleys. There is something ethereal, almost other-worldly about it, while at the same time your cows are reassuringly large and bulky and accepting of the situation. Cows of Bashan, eh – that is an Old Testament term I know well!

    I don’t think I’ve ever woken from a dream laughing. What a wonderful experience.

    • It doesn’t happen often… in fact, it’s a rare occasion, waking up laughing. But that is the sweetest way to wake up. I think I carried the smile with me for quite a few hours afterwards. Yes, the bashan cows are nice and fat because that area is lush. Sometimes they were used in an uncomplimentary description. But they have great beauty too. Thanks for the comment, Gill.

  9. Your misty compositions are very restful, Shimon, evoking the sensations you speak of when consorting with cows. I grew up next door to a dairy farm, and so cows were part of my landscape, and childhood activities. From around the age of four years old I would help the only slightly older farmer’s son drive the herd back to their field after milking. To be entrusted with this task made me feel very big and grown up. See what memories you have prompted. Your dream though, is something else – quite hilarious. I wonder what Nechama would think of this new, if passing allegiance.

    • I’m very glad that the post brought back good memories, Tish. I too have very positive memories connected to cows. They represent peace to me. I have to say, that Nechama isn’t very open or tolerant to others. Not only does she have reservations about a lot of animals, but she even differentiates among my neighbors and friends, preferring some over others. If she sees people dressed in anything that might be construed as a uniform, she makes herself scarce immediately.

  10. Wonderful dream and photos. Lovely post.

  11. You have weird dreams.
    My granddad was a dairy farmer and there was one cow who was the “leader” of the herd. She wore a bell, and best of all, when I was a child, If I could lead her to something high enough, I could get on here and rider her from the field abouit a quarter mile, back to the barn for milking. Great memories. But she never talked to me.

    • Unfortunately, Bob, most of my dreams are not so pleasant, But I usually forget them quickly. They start fading away shortly after I awake, if I don’t talk about them or write them down. Being able to ride a cow sounds like a lot of fun. It seems to me that most animals are reserved around children. It is hard to predict their behavior. But when we have patience… and don’t impose on the animal, they will relate to us. That’s something I learned from my grandfather. Though I have to say, that the animals didn’t usually relate to me… they related to him. But he’s been gone now for some time… and maybe I’ve calmed down enough… in any case, I do get responses from animals nowadays.

  12. What a wonderful dream to have Shimon, one that has you waking up laughing. I too love cows. When I was a teenager there was one particular cow in the field next to my house that used to come and say hello each morning. I would feed here choice pieces of vegeatation from the garden. She was a lovely, gently old thing and I can totally relate to your fondness of them. A very enjoyable post as always. I see your post come in to my email inbox in the morning and that’s where it stays until I can take time out to really enjoy it. Thank you for these lovely posts my friend.

    • Thanks for your very sweet comment, Chillbrook. I don’t have dreams like that often. That’s why I mention it when I do have such a pleasant dream. Glad that I brought back a good memory from your youth. Though I liked animals very much in my youth, I didn’t feed many, aside from cats. But I do remember a friend of my father’s. He was an old retired judge, and he had a goat who would pester him sometimes, when the man was smoking. So he’d give a cigarette to the goat, and that goat would eat it. Didn’t seem like it did him any harm…

  13. Oh my , cows in the rain and meditation and a photo from 30 years ago , priceless memories Shimon ! Thankyou , your writing continues to inspire , always filled with awe ( my new favorite word because of a comment you made on one of my posts ) … Thank you …xxx

    • I don’t remember the comment, Meg. But I can tell you that the word means a lot to me. And I was a bit dismayed when I started reading articles and blogs on the internet, to find it thrown around carelessly. I’m so glad you enjoy the posts here, because I feel your writing has a lot of soul. Best wishes to you. xxx

      • ” there are stories everywhere , and the fear , as in fear to write , that is what I call awe ” …your profound comment to me Shimon , on my post ” writers panic ” months ago but it remains strong in my memory and I am very mindful when I use it …On my fathers deathbed he asked me if I was afraid of anything and my responce was ” Dad , I’m afraid of beauty ” ….I didn’t have an explanation for this statement yet he understood …. And now I realize I could have said , ” I’m in awe of beauty ” …so your insight is very rich to me and the use of words so important …Thankyou for sensing my soul …xxx meg

  14. Cows are a curious bunch. Their bulls are very protective of their ladies if they think another competitor is getting too close.

    I was communicating with a cow a few years ago, almost nuzzling noses; hubby couldn’t believe his eyes. So astounded was he, he forgot to use the camera in his hand to record the moment. The bull meantime sauntered up to where me and the bovine lady were and created a bullish fuss. She obeyed and went off with him. The remainder of the ladies curiously looked on, keeping just a little distance from me.

    I love the mysterious foggy curtain, which allows us to see sufficient through its veil. The animals are so very tolerant.

    • It is a very moving experience to communicate with an animal. When we relate to them as stereotypes, we miss out on a lot. Though I’ve tried, I’ve come across many living creatures with whom I’ve been unable to communicate. So when we do succeed, the experience is precious. I remember, years ago, there were many stories and ruminations about meeting aliens from outer space. And there was always this presumption that we would be able to communicate with them. I remember wondering about that. Since there were so many living creatures sharing our environment that we couldn’t communicate with, I had doubts that it would be easy to communicate with aliens from outer space. Thanks menhir, for sharing your experience in that area. Glad you liked the post.

  15. What a beautiful sense of Arcadian bliss in these shots Shimon where it seems you have definitely made peace with your dislike of winter.

    • Yes Patti, after having complained about my difficulty with winter weather, I felt something of an obligation to show that sometimes I was able to overcome these reservations. Thanks for your comment.

  16. I’ve never had much of an opportunity to get to know cows in any real sense, although for a short while my (sort of) adopted mother and father, (my father’s business partner and his wife, who were incredibly kind to me during the younger years of my childhood), had a small farm, in which they raised cows, chickens, pigs, and goats. Whenever we visited the farm, we were always delighted to join in with feeding and watering the animals, although, honestly, I never did warm up to the chickens, but the cows and pigs and goats were quite entertaining and interesting to me at the time. I vaguely remember that the cows were quite vocal, in that they responded to my surrogate father whenever he spoke to them. And they would follow him around like a puppy, always wanting to touch their noses to his back, asking to be petted. My exposure to them was brief, but mostly I remember how happy my surrogate father and mother were in the company of their animals. It was a happy place to visit.

    Love the ethereal feel of the photos on your photo stream, and especially loved the one photo of the four cows against the wall of the structure, where they are clearing paying attention to your presence, but are not at all bothered by you being there, and seem to be fine with sharing space with you, camera or not. I’m glad you were able to find these photos and share them with us, as it gives us another bit of insight into the idea of finding beauty even when the weather is less than ideal. In fact, in this instance, it seems as if the weather provided a perfect palette in which to illustrate the beauty of your bovine friends. Great photos.

    • Yes, it’s very interesting to watch relationships between animals, and between animals and human beings. I have recently been spending part of my time in a home which includes both a dog and a cat. And I was surprised by the amount of touching… even kisses and petting between animals of different species. I too had a problem with chickens. I was exposed to a chicken farm at a young age, and then developed a real distaste for eating chicken. Getting to know cows and sheep did not have that affect on me. And yes, that is why I published these pictures. After complaining about the weather, I felt I had to share the exception to the rule. Occasionally, I am able to overcome my personal preferences. Thanks, Nancy.

  17. It’s good to hear you weren’t cowed by a cow crushing your table three times.

    • I think that if it had happened in real life, I would have been out of there pretty quick, Steve. How easy it sometimes is, in a dream. And it’s always a pleasure to hear your mastery of the language.

  18. Your series of photos is such a study in contrasts, particularly the ethereal fog and the solidity of the animals. Texas is primarily beef country, of course, with heavy, square-ish breeds: Angus, Brangus, Longhorns, Santa Gertrudis, Simbrah. They’re so different from the Jerseys and Holsteins that seem to predominate in our dairy industry. The Jerseys are sociable, affectionate. I can see one trying to climb onto your table to keep you company.

    I used to help show cattle during my years in 4-H, when I was in high school. We’d wash and trim and curry them until they were clean and fluffy, for all the world like ingenues ready for their first party. Such fun.

    And yes — there are many who sing to their cattle. I know a woman who sings lullabies to her cows. If I’ve done this right, you can hear it here.

    • Thank you so much for that wonderful cow song that you included in your comment. I have listened to it a number of times, and just love it. And yes, I have seen many different kinds of cows and bulls. Unfortunately, there are those that have to subsist on minimal food, and even those who work all day. But these cows that I posted here have a pretty good life, and they’re famous for it. How wonderful for you that you had that experience of prettying up the cows when you were young. I missed out on that sort of intimate contact with them. All my best to you.

  19. We raised Charolais cattle for most of my married life. My sons showed them in 4-H and they controlled out life for many years. Summer grazing was a pleasant time, but winter in Ohio means feeding in the ice and snow, plus even carrying water at times when things were all frozen. All my cattle memories are not full of laughter.

    • One of my sons, a family man, has a farm. And though he has since gone on to work at a ‘regular’ job, he tried hard and worked many years at farming… raising goats and sheep and geese too. I saw how much work goes into that sort of life, and how difficult it is to get away for vacation, or even to spend a few days with friends. It’s work that keeps you occupied day and often nigh, every day of the week. And I imagine that raising cows is a lot like that too. But he loved it And he probably would have kept it going all his life, except for the fact that he didn’t earn enough to take care of his family as he wished. Thanks for the comment, Bev. It’s a shame that little family farms are getting scarce.

  20. Ahhh … winter has never been my friend. My arthritis reminds me each time it rains or is a little cold {not too often here in Florida but we do see 40 temps}that winter is a climate where I do not want to be. I think as I get older I can understand the comments I heard as a child about the aches one feels because of weather. I never in a million years would have thought that I would speak of arthritis. I suppose one can’t hold back time and aging.
    Your photos are ethereal. I enjoyed veiwing them. Thank you for posting.

    • Yes, there are difficulties that accompany age. When I’m feeling good, I see quite a few advantages as well. We learn to appreciate life without some of the anxieties that are so prevalent in youth. But it is good to be in a warm climate. I used to think of getting a summer cabin in the southern part of our country, where the weather is more like Florida. But now that I’m old enough and can afford it, I find travelling a bit of a problem. So I try and keep it warm inside, and go out on the nicer days. Glad you enjoyed the pictures, Isadora. They can be appreciated in a nice warm room.

  21. This post made me smile from beginning to end! The images are stunning!

  22. Your pictures provided a gentle and loving journey for me this morning – thank you. The lowing of cattle as they call to each other out in the pasture, a muted sun prepared to set, the smell of pastures. There was magic in those moments; there was magic in your photos and your words.

    • Thank you so much, Mimi. I am moved by the awareness that we human beings have already transcended the limits of that physical plane, which limits the opportunity of interchange between all other physical creatures. Here we are, meeting in cyberspace, exchanging thoughts and feelings across borders… across continents and seas… and finding common concerns without even hearing one another’s voices… on the edge of the unknown. It is good to read your comment.

  23. Goddess and I love that fact that while we are in our middle years, we still enjoy talking to the cows. It’s very pleasing when they reply.

    • Ah Bill, how good it is to relater to the living creatures around us… at all ages. When we are young we have the daring. When we get old, we have the patience… regards to your beautiful Goddess.

  24. These shots have such an ethereal quality, Shimon. I love the graininess of the film and the almost black and white essence that the fog produces. One has to look closely to realize there’s color there. Thanks for sharing the Flickr link as it was fun to see them enlarged.

    • You’re quite right, Cathy… the color becomes even more subjective than usual when peering through the fog, dependent to a large degree on the objects of one’s observation. I remember printing those same photos on the cool side of the spectrum, to communicate the cold that was there on that occasion, and this time… when transferring them to digital, I ignored that consideration. Black and white is often truer in the description of scenes such as these, where even the forms are only partially defined. There were many possibilities available when I chose these images. Thanks for your comment.

  25. What a peaceful post…as I read, I could imagine the sound of the cows mooing in the mountains of Switzerland…as could I imagine them in the foggy fields in Israel…and the one in your dream as well.
    It is amazing how photos have no limit on time…after 30 years, they are still evoking emotion and wonder…
    Thank you for sharing your love of animals (and photography) with us!

    • Very glad you enjoyed these images, Lia. It’s true that there are some universal experiences that we have in common with people living in far away places. They can bring us together… they can emphasize our common fate… though the opposite exists too; the subtle differences between people, between the animals of one man compared to those of another… the differences sometimes even found between brothers or sisters… even between identical twins. On the one hand we ache for unity… and on the other for individuality.

      • Very well said! True… There are times when the things people share in common bring them together and other times when they crave uniqueness…
        How I not only enjoy reading your blog posts but also your wonderful replies to comments!
        Cheers from snowy NYC !

  26. Ahhhh….first let me say that I have Albinoni playing as I read this…his adagio in G minor…..and what a stunning combination….the beautiful music, the ethereal mysterious mists veiling the wonderful cows and to top it all, your narrative! What a pleasure for me….you should have a look at these stunning pics while listening to that piece of music…thanks for the treat!xxx

    • I took your advice quite literally, my dear Dina. Looked at these very same pictures above while listening to the adagio in G minor by Tomaso Albinoni, and shared a bit of the mood in which you had shared my images. It was a beautiful experience. When I was young, I lived in the world of classical music… and somewhere along the line, discovered jazz, and now listen mostly to a very narrow genre of jazz music, with occasional breaks for Bach. How easy it is to become enslaved by habit… and how liberating, to step out of our expectations. It was a real joy sharing your experience, and I am now listening to the Concerti a cinque which is also very refreshing. Thanks you very much for sharing. xxx

      • How lovely that we got to share the same experience!!! The wonders of the internet eh? I will always think of those pictures now whenever I hear Albinoni… I shall go and have a listen to the Concerti a cinque now!
        I forgot to say….I did enjoy your dream!xxx

  27. I will go to your flickr page shortly, but first wanted to comment on the loveliness of these photos. So soft and gentle in the fog. I too have fallen in love with cows and cattle that live all around me on the hills and ranchlands. There is something special about them.

    • What a pleasure it must be to live in the country, and meeting with cows and other animals on the range. I have lived in the city all my life, and find it interesting and pleasurable. But sometimes, the intensity of human interests blind us to nature. There is so much I’ve learned from the animals around us. Thanks so much for your comment, Angeline.

  28. It sounds like your dreams are as interesting as mine. Great post – I really enjoyed your photos. 🙂

    • Very good to hear you liked the photos, Suzi. I have the feeling that your dreams are much more interesting than mine. Such a dream as I mentioned in the post is quite rare for me… most of the time, my dreams reflect my interests in waking hours.

  29. Beautiful pictures. I completely join you in a love for cats, and cows! They have something similar in that they feel like they know something..I think. Your dream made me giggle, how brilliant to wake up laughing..

    • Yes, for me, that’s the best… to wake up laughing. It doesn’t happen that often. But it’s wonderful when it does. To me, cats and cows are almost as different as you can get. But you’re right in what you say… it does seem that they feel they know something. Thanks for your comment.

  30. I love these wonderful photos that you took some time ago. Thank you for sharing your precious photo collection.

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