Friday, 24 April
Reading on Facebook about a walk that I used to do when I lived in the Somerset village of Templecombe, which described walking with a dog on the lead and the problems when there were cattle around, I realised that my command of terminology relating to cattle was inadequate. Heifer I know but steer I was vague about. I now know that a steer is what the Americans use for a castrated bull (bullock is more common in the UK). But I also learnt that cattle is related to the word chattel, which also once meant livestock as well as property, both words like “capital” deriving from the Latin “capitalis”. I also learnt that a maverick in the US means (also) an unbranded bovine and that it obtained this name from a Samuel Maverick (1803-1870) who was apparently very lax about branding his cattle. And also that “maverick” according to one source means “shining” or “brilliant” in Hebrew but I couldn’t check whether that was true or whether Samuel Maverick’s surname was related to that. And I picked up “freemartin” which is the female twin of a bull.