The Highland Coo

by cheri sabraw

The last time I visited Scotland, my husband and I took a leisurely but long walk out a wind-swept old gate and down along a narrow grassy path to the Atlantic Ocean. We were on the Isle of Mull, at that time, a part of Scotland rarely traveled by Americans.

Upon following the path around a large rocky outcropping, we  ran head-first into a small herd of  maybe five Highland Cattle. I crow-hopped off the path and shouted a bit in surprise. They spooked at me and backed down their plot of grass.

It was lambing season back then in May of 2013, so I was expecting lambs not  large orange hairy cows whose eyes were hidden behind a curtain of shaggy bangs that made my bangs look too organized.

Like most tourists who have never seen one of these spectacular beasts before, I was immediately taken by their thick  coats, splendid horns, and gentle dispositions. That day I was ill-equipped with an uncharged camera; I lamented at dinner that night at Cafe Fish that a wonderful photographic opportunity had slipped away.

So. One of my photographic goals on this trip to the Scottish Highlands was to see Highland cattle out free-roaming in a pasture again and find the perfect coo to photograph and then paint.


Bob, our driver, said he knew where we could see these creatures. Alas, the location, while indeed hosting several beasts, was next to a coffee shop, with clever owners, who knew that just the presence of Highland Cattle would necessitate a stop from coaches. Not what I was looking for.

Besides trying to maneuver my lens through barbed wire and mud, it was feeding time.


And the old girl was tired of tourists, cameras snapping, and people speaking an English she did not understand. She did what any self-respecting coo would doo: turn her back and say phooey on yoo.

I told Bob that we should continue our search. I would provide the eagle eyes; he could concentrate on the windy roads that make up the Scottish Highlands.

Finally, I saw a beautiful pasture that rolled up to a neatly landscaped home. Coo of all colors lay peacefully in the grasses, chewing their cud, unsuspecting of camera-laden women with apples in their pockets, sugar in their purses, and photographic designs in their minds.



It was if we were in a Coo Candy Shop.

Which one to choose?



Cindy, my sister, and I ran around like a couple of coos ourselves, clucking, calling, begging and bribing these ladies. DO get up, won’t you coo?

And then I thought I was in Montana.


Bob motioned from the coach. ” Time to go, girls. We must get to Loch Fyne before the sun sets, ” he reminded us, “and before the bar closes.”

And we did.



About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in cattle, My photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Highland Coo

  1. Cindy Usedom says:

    It was exactly like that Coo-eri! We did have a wonderful time finding the Coos!
    My hair looked like their bangs in the damp weather..but I didn’t care.
    Scotland was splendid indeed!
    Love, Sister Cindy

    • Cheri says:

      Didn’t we have fun! Coo-hunting with the Block sisters. What could have been better? Well, the guys would have preferred golf but we got our way, for once, or twice, or thrice.

  2. Carol Irene McCann says:

    I love the bangs. Those weapons that they carry on their heads are quite exquisite. These old girls will make good subject for paintings. I will forward to seeing them.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I love this breed — but what is ‘coo’? Is that a real word, or an approximation of the Scottish pronunciation, or your own made-up word? It really doesn’t matter, since it suits your reaction to these critters. If I’d seen them, I would have cooed, too.

    • shoreacres says:

      That last photo nearly got past me, I was so taken with the animals. It’s a great photo. I laughed at the name of the boat (ship?).

      • Cheri says:

        Thank you. That photo was a lucky one. Cindy and I walked along the shoreline as the day darkened. We both had colds and were sniffling away. Cindy was looking for flotsam and jelly fish and then we came upon this boat. The camera did the work. I’d try painting it but water is too hard and I am getting a bit lazy.

    • Cheri says:

      Hello Linda! It is how I heard the Scottish people identifying this animal. Quite charming, I found.

  4. 4brig says:

    Great photos. One can’t have too many of coos or boats. Looking forward to seeing your paintings.

  5. Lue perrine says:

    Oh my gosh HOW CUTE! 🐃
    What a faodail! They look so hardy and so warm with all their adorable fur! 😆
    Fabulous photos Cheri! I’m sure you were in high heaven petting them! 🥰
    What a gorgeous island too!
    I really like the pic of the coo above the highland buffalo! 😉

    • Cheri says:

      Yes. I like that photo too. Her color grabs me and her personality. I had to look up your word “faodail” lucky find in Gaelic. Clever clever Lue.

  6. wkkortas says:

    Our friends in the Highlands have an admirable scruffiness. Your average Holstein affects a tad too much dignity.

    • Cheri says:

      I like the look of a Holstein cow. I also like Jerseys whose hide looks like butterscotch velvet. Black Angus are too black and Red Angus have no variation. Baldy Angus are delightful. My Texas mom loved Texas Longhorns. Highland Cattle are scruffy and soulful. Have I covered the lot?

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