This just in: cows tend to align north-south when left to their own devices! I find it stunning that no hunter, over the course of a hundred thousand years of organized language, ever figured it out – but better late than never, right?
Apparently they might be sensitized to the magnetic field of the earth – a lot like many fish, whales, birds and bats. Really, think about all the times you’ve been lost in the countryside, hobbling together makeshift compasses out of paper clips floating in water, when you could have just asked a herd of dadgum cows.
I decided to test this theory with the precision of my prep school science labs, because, well, shit: we’ve got cows, and I know which way is north! So I looked at all the random pictures from the farm to see if there was a north-south trend among our lovely milk-providing friends in the fields.
Picture #1 – It’s about 2am, summer 2002, and I hear a bunch of rustling in the field outside. I grab my camera, tiptoe outside, walk as silently as I can into the meadow, and stop somewhere in a patch of grass. It’s a new moon, and there is absolutely no light anywhere – total pitch black. So I lift up my camera, press the button, and the flash lights up:
needless to say, I was scared SHITLESS
Cows orientation: all facing south
Picture #2 – Summer 2003. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I grab her and take a self-picture of the both of us. Unbeknownst to me, cows lurk on the field behind us, and across the street:
Cows orientation: 75% of them facing north
Picture #3 – Late summer 2004, it’s unbelievably hot, and I’m thinking the cows must be miserable. I stand on our fence and snap this languid shot:
Cows orientation: all except two facing or sitting north/south
Picture #4 – Spring 2006, and I’m taking pictures of the farm for our rental listing. I figure the gals are in the field, and indeed, they do not disappoint:
Cows orientation: 7 of 11 facing north or south
So there you have it: it’s all absolutely true. I don’t know how you can possibly get more verification. So next time you’re fiddling with your GPS or pulling over to a shitty gas station to ask directions… well, you know what to do.