An intimate memoir on the work and wonder of ranch life, critiquing the inhumane and environmentally destructive factory farm system and offering sustainable alternatives for ethical omnivores.
Although there are nearly 100 million cattle in the United States, these animals are often ignored or dismissed. In Meditations with Cows, Shreve Stockton inspires a more reverential attitude toward these affectionate and intelligent creatures as she shares captivating stories and photos of ranch life.
At the center of the narrative is Daisy, the matriarch of the herd. Through the daily ritual of milking, Stockton forges a relationship with Daisy that deepens with each passing season: "When you have a milk cow, you are together every day, no matter the weather, no matter either of your moods. The hind leg of this twelve-hundred-pound animal towers over you as you crouch beside her... both of you aware of the fact that one well-aimed kick could kill you if she wished. Yet you are allowed to rest your cheek and forehead against her warm belly as you milk... her trust in you entwined with your trust in her, you become family."
For anyone who loves animals or cares about the environmental impact of their food, Stockton explores conservation and the important role of cattle in local ecosystems, models the humane treatment of animals, and shows how pastured cattle can be our allies in averting climate crisis. Blending together narrative, science, and thoughtful reflection, Meditations with Cows offers a moving portrait of the rhythms of work, life, and hardship on the ranch.
About the Author
Shreve Stockton is an award-winning photographer and author of The Daily Coyote, a memoir recounting her first year of raising an orphaned coyote. She is a recipient of the Wyoming Arts Council creative nonfiction writing fellowship. The founder of Star Brand Beef, she is devoted to prioritizing the humane treatment of animals and ethical stewardship of the land. Stockton lives in Wyoming with her Farmily--cows, bulls, cats, dogs, horses, honeybees, chickens, a coyote, and a cowboy.
"How wonderful it is to come across the extraordinary magic of Shreve Stockton's writing. She writes from a position of authenticity and great love. Her intelligence and sensitivity suffuse everything from the way she describes the personalities of her cows to the much needed lessons on grazing and pastureland. With her work rooted in the land itself, Stockton presents a vivid picture of Wyoming to readers who may not otherwise know or understand what a working ranch is like. Meditations with Cows will enchant and thrill every reader, and arrives at a critical time when understanding each other is vital and crucial to our survival."
—Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of American Harvest
“Meditations with Cows takes you on a provocative and thoughtful journey through the best and worst parts of the modern food system. The relentless forces of industry and profit are straining the biosphere and the relationship with our animal kin, winding up for explosive change in the way we eat. Stockton and Daisy's story is at once an intimate memoir and an epic journey through this unique moment in human history.”
—Jacy Reese Anthis, author of The End of Animal Farming
"In Meditations with Cows, readers will find themselves in a beautiful world, led on an exploration that connects them back to the land, back to their food, and ultimately, back to themselves. With tales of ranching in the West, a wealth of information about our food system, and an invitation to participate, Meditations with Cows weaves together so many important threads. Stockton is a master wordsmith, the modern Aldo Leopold and Wendell Berry I'd been looking for."
—Kate Kavanaugh, founder of Western Daughters Butcher Shop and Ground Work Collective
"Meditations with Cows is enchanting and profound. Shreve Stockton is a clear-eyed, fearless woman with an enormous heart—her insights on rural life are spot-on, unsentimental, and unfailingly appreciative of the bounties attending the life she has built with rigor and ardor. Don't miss this book."
—Peter Coyote, actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall