“Red cattle,” Annabeth said. “The cattle of the sun.”
“What?” I [Percy] asked.
“They’re sacred to Apollo.”
― Rick Riordan, The Battle of the Labyrinth
I love the thought of cattle guarded by the sun. Apollo’s red cattle guarded by the sun. And so, I wondered about the expression “Holy Cow”. As a lover of cows, I use the phrase often.
Wikipedia says….”Holy cow!” (and other similar terms), an exclamation of surprise used mostly in Australia, Canada, England and United States, is a minced oath or euphemism for “Holy Christ!” The expression dates to at latest 1905. Its earliest known appearance was in a tongue-in-cheek letter to the editor: “A lover of the cow writes to this column to protest against a certain variety of Hindu oath having to do with the vain use of the name of the milk producer. There is the profane exclamations, ‘holy cow!’ and, ‘By the stomach of the eternal cow!'” The phrase appears to have been adopted as a means to avoid using obscene or indecent language and may have been based on a general awareness of the holiness of cows in some religious traditions.
So….the holiness of cows in some religious traditions. Does that include mythology? It certainly should include Apollo’s cows. I love the idea of them, red “immortal cattle regarded as handsome (ἄριστος), wide-browed, fat (εúρυμέτωπος) and straight-horned (ὀρθόκραιρος). The cattle were guarded by Helios’ daughters, Helios and Neaera, the personification of the brilliant, blinding rays of the sun.”
We let our cows into the 2020 garden a few weeks ago. They will periodically rotate through the spot and we will plant a spring and summer cover crop for them to graze. After three years of rest and grazing, it will be ready to plant again. The cows and cover crops will provide the fertility we need to grow our vegetables. A sustainable cycle of fertility with little input other than a HOLY COW…(I might add, again, guarded by the sun).
We will be at market with Temple Top Dog Treats this week. If you would like to reserve some for your furry friend, please e-mail us at email@example.com. Otherwise – we will see you Wednesday at Main Street Farmer’s Market 4-5:30.