Taking care of the dead cow

This is an account of the story that happened in December, 2021. I am writing it to get rid of that experience, and hoping that it might provide a distraction, however distasteful, from the ongoing war, fought by my country, Russia, in Ukraine.

I need to admit, however, that I have subjected my account to a specific kind of censorship. I had to remove all references to autonomous complexes. In order to avoid any harm to readers who are not depth psychologists.

It was November, and I was doing my usual chores to tidy up skiing routes in the forest near my town. One of the routes was dissected in two parts by an automotive road. Which is a major reason for the trouble.

There was a field near the road, a small patch where trees were cut recently, and new trees started to impede the passage. In the last day of October I spent a few hours cutting the freshly grown trees.

Perhaps some local moose felt the intrusion of a human, and decided to move. Or may be it was a coincidence.

Next weekend, I approached the same place, on the opposite site of the road, clearing the old forest. On the road there were some details broken off from a car. Incidents happen. Need to take care.

It was a long day clearing the forest. When I approached the road again, long after the sunset, still in the forest at a fair distance from the road, I saw a dead cow.

She was in agony or dead, I could not tell for sure. I knew that because of gas accumulating in a carcass, a body can spontaneously move even after death.

Her hind leg was broken. The worst part was, she laid on the route I cleared. I felt some intimate connection to her. It looked like a way of saying, “man, you have killed me, you have won, now take what good is left in my body”.

I texted my friend, T. He suggested to call a nearby puppy farm, and ask if they could take the carcass.

It didn’t work.

Days passed. The carcass slowly started to decompose, although the cold weather prevented the rot. Local dogs started to eat the corpse, from the head, down to the neck. Too slowly.

The problem was that the corpse laid on a skiing route, so I felt that I had to remove it before the Winter.

The problem also was, that the carcass was too heavy for me to move it. A few weeks after death, it was barely touched by local animals.

I asked my friend T. for help. We planned how we could pull the body away. He was reluctant, though.

He opted to call a local jaeger — an official responsible for anything related to hunt. The jaeger was apparently interested, but never called back again.

There were only a few days before the snow would cover the scene, and I was desperate. I certainly did not want to leave the corpse on the skiing route.

Another weekend, I was in the forest again, cutting fallen trees with a chainsaw. I had a solution to my problem.

It started to snow. The time was right.

I assembled a huge funeral fire from the logs I cut. I still could not move the body, so I put the firewood on top of it.

I expected a stench of decomposing meat being burned. But it was surprisingly clear. Hardly any smell at all. Just a big fire.

For me, that day, it was only a part of the job. I had to move on, to clear other routes.

It took a lot of physical labor that day, and I had more to do. Had to eat something. I reached for the field ration and had a close look. What should I eat? The next moment I knew the answer. Canned milk. Canned milk alone.

It worked quite well. After a few hours of cutting more logs, my chainsaw stalled. I was desperate, and I asked again what should I do? And again I knew the answer. The chainsaw was alright, all I had to do was to pull starter rope harder.

All routes were cleared, ready for skiing.

The next day I approached the corpse again. There was already some snow everywhere, except for the place where the fire burned yesterday.

It was the worst of it all. I started to pull the corpse. It yielded. Broke into parts. I carried them away from the route, some 30 meters into the forest. Some parts of the remains looked like well-cooked meat. Some parts I had to collect with a snow shovel.

I cleared my hands several times, and disposed of the gloves I wore. I tried to clean the snow shovel. But some dust had stuck to it, anyway.

On my way home, I left the snow shovel on the parking lot near a lake. I think someone might still use it.


Writing about aspects of Russia’s history

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store