I’ve never seen someone herd livestock before. When went to swim under a waterfall, our bus dropped us off on a farming family’s property. The path to the waterfall went through their fields and grazing land; at the top of the path there was a herd of grazing cows. Nicaraguan cows look very different from North American cows: they’re a creamy color and they have solid lumpy bodies with large dark eyes.
A matronly woman guarded the path’s entrance with her pre-teen daughter and three or four-year-old son. When we were waiting for the bus back she walked out into the middle of the path making a “Duck, duck, duck” sound at the cows. In response, the herd (about five animals) came out of the trees and gathered onto the path. The woman tied up a calf and led the adults away with her voice and a switch. The little boy watched her intently from the path, occasionally imitating her “Duck, duck” sound.
It was fascinating to observe the cows’ relationship with their owner. They recognized the woman as their superior and obeyed her, but were also intimidated by her. In America we emphasize humane treatment towards animals to the point of treating them like children. Here animals are a means of survival and people cannot afford to coddle them. Even children, whom are kept safe obsessively by North American parents, aren’t coddled here. The mother left her little boy alone with us foreigners as she went off to herd the cows. Leaving a young child alone with strangers is unheard of in the United States.