To dust we, and cows, must all return

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

While bicycling along the country lanes of Curry County I’ve seen a lot of dead bovines by the side of the road.

If I were one of those high-dollar journalists who write books and attended soirees in Santa Fe and Sedona, I suppose I could write “purple prose” about the dead calf I saw by the side of the road a few weeks back.

Something like, “I stared at the dried, empty husk that once held a living spirit.”
I suppose I could walk you through the various stages of decay and such, but I won’t.

I’m just a bicycle-riding, working dude in Clovis, so I’ll just tell you that it dried up and blew away with that 50 mph wind we had a couple of weeks back.

That calf, and others like it I see from time to time, isn’t the biggest dead thing I’ve noticed while bicycling. There was that cow that someone left by the side of a Curry County road a couple of years ago. I remember it because I rode past the carcass every day for about a month-and-a-half, holding my breath.

Now I know we have businesses in the area that drop by dairies, feedlots and ranches, pick up those cattle that have gone to that “Great Pasture in the Sky” and haul them away. This one didn’t get on the truck.

I found it tough to believe that someone would dump a full-grown cow by the side of the road. I’d seen this a few times in Mexico, I didn’t expect such a sight in my own town.

The one that sticks in my mind south of the border was a huge bull, dead, by the side of Mexican Highway 2 just outside the town of Agua Prieta in Sonora. Folks were just ambling by it as if it were a parked pickup. And that’s about how big this bloated thing was … I mean it seemed as big as an F-150 with a camper on the back. Even from inside a closed up, air-conditioned car my nose caught its wonderful fragrance.

Anyway, back to our own dead cow. I called the sheriff’s department only to find out that the dead bovine haulers won’t cart them away after a certain time. The upshot was no one could do anything about the dead cow by the side of the road.

So day after day I rode by the thing. The boy within me began to see it as kind of a science experiment. While the adult in me thought how inconsiderate it was of someone to just leave this rotting hulk by the side of the road, the kid in me wanted to go over and poke it with a stick (but I didn’t).

I’m not going to go into great detail about how nature took care of this thing, but in the space of about 45 days it went from a decomposing mass to nothing but bones and hide. What was left got mulched up by a passing county mower.

While there are better places to take dead cattle, it was pretty neat to see how New Mexico’s sun and wind took care of things. I imagine there were probably a lot of happy skittering and crawling critters too.

Ain’t nature a wonderful thing?

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: