Jim Jimenon was a canola farmer, a leathermaker and a shoemaker, amongst other things, who had fallen deeply in love with every single cow that he had ever owned. He didn't like to say that he owned them however - for Jim Jimenon, the cow/man relationship was a street of two ways. He lived next door to The Smeddlers
The Smeddlers did not know that they were the sorts of people who hated beauty and wastefulness and wanted everyone to live life in the most boring and unimaginative style possible. They did not know that they feared people who have an inkling of how the world is meant to be beautiful. If they did know those two things, even so they still may not have been able to admit that they preferred people who were boring and unimaginative because they were easier for people like The Smeddlers to move around on a spreadsheet. If people knew that they had the power to live beautifully, they would turn and take power back from those
like The Smeddlers, who were composed of hollow centres - and you can
imagine what hell it would be to be a hollow-centred beauty-hater and to
lose your ability to control other people. You would be hollowed out
These are the sorts of things The Smeddlers believed, which made them very successful, but they didn't know that this was what they believed because The Smeddler's intuition had dried up around 1972.
The Smeddlers owned a massive dairy enterprise the next town over and they thought Jim Jimenon was a bloody dill.
Jim Jimenon kept putting off slaughtering his cows for their hides to make his footwear and their meat, which he ate. Jim Jimenon sometimes ran out of hides and had to buy more from the tannery in town. At the moment there were seven cows living on his property and one calf and apart from milk, Jim didn't actually take anything from them except for man/cow friendship and things that were useful to him once they became no longer useful to the cows.
Jim Jimenon's crappy next door enterprise made The Smeddlers glare out their windows at him. Jim Jimenon wandered around his property at odd times talking to his cows and feeling rich because he had learned how to communicate with cows though they did not speak the same language. He would leave off farming or making another pair of exquisite boots (he was currently branching out into suede and investigating dying techniques on the internet) in order to go and see how his cows were going and to telepathically communicate with them through their eyes. It was a very beautiful life.
Then, as sometimes happens, Maisie got sick. She went down and though sometimes they got up again, she didn't. She stayed down for days and no manner of extra calcium or an examination from the vet would help. It happens from time to time even with cows living in luxury conditions like those blessed to live with Jim Jimenon.
Now was one of those times - Jim Jimenon knew that Maisie was not going to get back up again. He got the boltgun and the knife. The bolt caused Maisie to be brain dead before her life ebbed slowly from her throat. Jim Jimenon said goodbye, kissed and caress her smooth, shiny body.
It took Jim Jimenon all night to strip Maisie's beautiful, soft fur. "By this I will remember you," he said, and wiped the tears that streamed down his cheeks that, if there were anyone there to view them, he wouldn't have apologised for. He and Maisie went back a decade. He envisioned the boots and shoes that he would be making in a few weeks once the leather had gone through all the steps it took to go from being the outside of Maisie to the outside of the footwear that covered the feet of the people in Jim Jimenon's town and their friends and family and beyond. (Word of mouth was the best form of advertising and Jim Jimenon's boots were a superb form of shoewear).
Jim Jimenon took until sunrise to carve up Maisie's flesh for refrigeration and eating. Maisie was a younger cow than some he'd carved up, and so her flesh would be more tender for preparing and eating the sort of dinners that would be worthy of her life and their friendship. Whereas contrast that with Old Bob, for example - he'd been 15, and a tougher hide. Old Bob's flesh had toughened up a little in the same way Jim Jimenon's was toughening up too, but it was nothing that a little long, slow cooking didn't solve.
Jim Jimenon knew why The Smeddlers glared out their windows at him. But he knew that the best way through grief was to take it and make beautiful things from it. It was what made Jim Jimenon rich. The Smeddlers might laugh at the way he went to the tannery down the road to buy hide because he couldn't bring himself to kill his own cows. They might say that if he was that pissweak he should just damn it all and plant chia paddocks to add to his canola and go buy all of his hide from the tannery.
But Jim Jimenon knew they only had a portion of the story. While it was true that it was from weakness that he couldn't bring himself to slaughter his friends before their time, within this lay strength. Jim Jimenon and his customers swore they could tell the difference between a pair of boots made out of Jim's cows and those from tannery cows. Jim's was softer, better, more lush. It was quite simple really: Jim's cows were less stressed and happier. Some of the stock from the tannery would have come from the The Smeddlers' own dairy cows, who were born, raised and died according to the exigencies of modern, efficient farming practice.
It was true Jim's place was as unprofessional and messy as a dag hanging off a sheep's bum. The cows wandered wherever there weren't fences to keep them out. Seven cows wandering round the place, not earning their keep, turning into red on the balance sheet. But Jim knew his cows. He knew that Bess and Jeevie hung out together, just as he knew Beavis would most likely be found taking some quiet solitudinal time by herself up the far end of the paddock each day. Jim Jimenon liked to imagine Beavis as a bit of a cow poet - she needed time off by herself to gaze off into the distance and ponder.
Beavis, Bess and Jeevie, when each of their times came, would be found, if anyone cared to experiment, to have much greater levels of collagen in their tissues than the unfortunate bovine relatives belonging to those next door. Better meat, better leather, better life. But the greatest of these was love, even if there was no column for that on the spreadsheet.