Calling Goats (and Other Animals)

Our mom isn't very imaginative when she calls us animals in from the pasture. When she wants the goats and sheep to come in, she hollers, "Goat, goat! Sheep, sheep!"

Our mom isn’t very imaginative when she calls us animals in from the pasture. When she wants the oats and sheep to come in, she hollers, “Goat, goat! Sheep, sheep!” When she wants horses and pigs, she yells “Horse, horse!” and “Pig, pig!”
We think she should try something like Swedish kulning. Check out the video above—it’s neat! Kulning, explains Anna Ivarsdotter, professor of musicology at Uppsala University in Sweden, is a piercing calling cry in a high register (that means it’s loud and high-pitched and hurts your ears). It carries up to 2½ miles through the woods.
In Sweden’s olden days, as spring arrived, cattle and goats moved from low-lying villages to small mountain farms, called shielings, where there was better grazing. Women and girls went with them, staying at their village’s shieling until fall, milking, churning butter and making cheese. Each day two women drove their village’s animals out to graze and stayed nearby to protect them from bears, wolves and thieves. They communicated with their animals and with the women back at their shieling with loud cries that echoed down the mountainside. Kulning is now a reemerging folk skill in modern Sweden
There are more cool ways to call cows, like in this poem, “The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire” written by a lady named Jean Ingelow in the mid-1800s:

“Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!” calling,
For the dews will soone be falling;
Leave your meadow grasses mellow, mellow, mellow;
Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow;
Come uppe, Whitefoot, come uppe, Lightfoot;
Quit the stalks of parsley hollow, hollow, hollow;
Come uppe, Jetty, rise and follow,
From the clovers lift your head;
Come uppe, Whitefoot, come uppe, Lightfoot,
Come uppe, Jetty, rise and follow,
Jetty, to the milking shed.” 

A man named H. Carrington Bolton referred to her poem in an article he wrote in “The Language Used in Addressing Cattle” published in The American Anthropologist magazine in April 1897.

Jean Ingelow’s familiar lines embody a call to cows in the fields prevalent in Scotland; it is also obtained in Lincolnshire as early as 1571. It is sometimes used in combination as cushy-cow. It is found in England as cushie, and in Ulster County, New York, as cush (pronounced koosh). Philologists find the root of this word in the Icelandic kusa, kussa, and kusla … Another Scotch call is recorded by Jamieson: hove, used in calling a cow to be milked, sometimes as hove-leddy; anciently in the Lothians this was prrutchy and prutch-leddy.

The calls reported from different States of the Union are equally diverse. In Connecticut I have heard sake, sake (as in cake); in New Jersey, Maryland, Iowa, and elsewhere this takes the form of sook, sook, sookey; in Virginia and Alabama it becomes sookow, sookow; in central Illinois it is sook-white; in Maine the call is koeb; in Virginia coo (Scottish for cow); in Alabama co-boys (come boys) … A common call in Connecticut is boss, boss, come boss; also shortened to co-boss. This is also reported from Michigan and Vermont.

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But Uzzi and I agree. Kulning is more fun (and memorable for your neighbors) than “boss, boss, come boss.” How do you call the animals on your farm? Leave a comment. Uzzi and I want to know!

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