Monday, November 5, 2007

Still Life with Water Buffalo

When I look away from my desk, I can see a red barn, a weathered split-rail fence, one green corner of the upper pasture, and the gray stones of a small cemetery. It’s a traditional postcard scene, and appeared at least once on the cover of the L.L. Bean catalog.

This morning a quick movement caught my eye: our Shanghai cat, proceeding up the hill with all due speed, a limp mouse clenched in his teeth. And behind him—four water buffalo, looking as if they had just escaped from a Balinese rice paddy instead of a nearby dairy.

I don’t know anything about the practicalities of raising water buffalo on granite hillsides, but can report that Woodstock Water Buffalo makes real mozzarella and a densely creamy yogurt.

It took three guys holding big sticks to chase the four animals into a trailer, a tricky task that I complicated further by trying to take pictures. From the few words exchanged, I learned that water buffalo are not only headstrong and powerful, but naturally curious and easily distracted. In the end I was instructed to hide behind a truck.