Have you ever heard of the game “My Cows”? I heard of it for the first time a few years ago on a roadtrip from Virginia to Georgia with lots of friends. It was pretty fun, so I busted it out again on a long road trip. And again, and again. It became kind of a regular feature in any car trip over a few hours long (and including at least one other person in the vehicle).
Here’s how you play. You’re driving along, and you see a cow or a few cows or a whole cattle yard full of hundreds of cows. Whoever says “My cows!” in the car first gets one cow. That’s right, one cow and two hundred cows still count as one if they’re in one sighting.
That’s the easy part. You earn points, simple as pie.
Here’s where things get interesting. If you see a cemetery, whoever sees it and says “Bury your cows” first inherits all of one other person’s cows. I’m not sure how that would work in the real world. You bury someone’s cows, they have zero, you have yours plus a bunch of dead, buried cattle. Not real-world safe, but it works in the game.
If there are two people in the car, the burying thing is simple. If there are more people playing, you can pick whose cows you want to steal. Good strategy is obviously to pick the person with the most cows, but sometimes it’s a lot more fun to randomly pick because someone just stole your cows or because you feel like it. It’s really a game of anger, violence, and retribution.
The third thing you can do is say “Marry my cows,” if you see a church. Then your number of cows doubles. Before you know it, you will be scanning the horizon with hundreds of cows in your possession.
At some point Scott and I started playing this game on roadtrips together. It didn’t go well. The first time we played with just the two of us, we were out for blood. There was stealing and burying and marrying all over the place. Feelings were hurt.
That was strike one against “My Cows.” Strike two happened the very next time we played the game together. And then there was strike three. There was more violent game-playing, more hurt feelings. We decided at some point in the middle of those later games that it was time for a solution. All we could think of at the time was to give our cows to the only other being in the car–Peanut. So before he knew it, Peanut was rich in cows. He had more cows than he could shake a stick at (particularly because he’s a dog and struggles to shake a stick in the first place).
A few years down the road, the “Peanut’s Cows” game has taken on a life of its own. At some point, we discussed the idea that since every cow we see is Peanut’s, it’s possible that he owns every cow in the world. Sometimes Peanut checks in on his local cows (also known as us walking by a cow pasture on our way to the mailbox). Sometimes we ask him why we still have to pay for his food when he’s obviously a cattle baron. Mostly, I’m just relieved that we now have a fun roadtrip tradition instead of a roadtrip game that means blood will be shed.
And I’ll admit that I think cows are just a little bit cuter when I’m pretending that they all belong to our dog.