Cows of the Rising Sun – Alan Weiss

In the beginning there was a Cow. She was born from a melting glacier and her name was Auðumla. She fed the giant Ymir, the ancestor of the Frosted Giants – the Thurs. Hence perhaps the gossip clad in a neat adage: “Drink milk, you’ll be great!” Except that Ymir was a giant before he started sucking Auðumla, so this saying is nothing more than wishful thinking or a marketing trick. And there is a no return policy once the Cow has been exploited.

Ymir himself was a perfect example of this. He ended up badly. Three gods – Odin, Wili and We – killed him, and from his giant flesh made the Earth: from his bones – the mountains, from his blood – the sea, from his skull – the sky, from his brain – clouds. The grandfather of these three creators of our planet, Buri, was licked out of the glacier by Auðumla. So if it wasn’t for the Cow, we wouldn’t be here. Our foremother in a straight line. So says (more or less) Snorri Sturluson in “Poetic Edda,” a record of the Nordic mythology from the 13th century.

And I’ve been shepherding fifty Cows and one Bull on the hills between Oslo and Lillehammer for three summer seasons. I’d go out to the pastures and milk them twice a day. Last year, however, three of my protégés were missing. They had stopped giving milk. Or they had given poor quality milk and no longer came to the summer pasture. Or maybe they had just been replaced with newer models. I also heard a Cow scream when her baby was taken away from her a few hours after birth. So I stopped coming. I stopped drinking milk and eating milk products. I already did not eat meat before.

Deny god the things that are god’s but don’t deny cows the things that are cows’. Don’t drink milk, and you’ll be great!     



Alan Weiss took care of cows in Norway and then trains in Switzerland, to make money for bread and activism. He has been an activist for nature and animals for over a decade. In the meantime, he has completed his PhD in literature, recently published under the title of “Just like the moon. The poetic life of Jerzy Harasymowicz” (Publishing House of the Tymoteusz Karpowicz Foundation). He writes for the Miesięcznik Dzikie Życie. He would also like to write books, but he does not have the courage and time. He uploads pictures to Instagram @alanlweiss


Jędrzej Majer – took care of the great translation for us!