“Cowshed” and Cow Sheds

 

Have you noticed the new brand of toiletries called “Cowshed?” I saw it advertised in one magazine or another a few days ago, and then, in the little lavatory on an airplane just, I came across the item itself: next to the sink stood two bottles, one of soap and the other of cream, both labeled “Cowshed.”

As it happens, I have some experience of cow sheds — or, rather, of one particular cow shed, which stood a few paces from the tiny cottage I rented for a year on the outskirts of Oxford. That cow shed housed an enormous bull and a couple of cows, who every day produced gallons of manure and urine from one end and, from the other, of mucous, which streamed from their noses unendingly.

It was, as I say, just a single cow shed; but, cows being cows, I believe it displayed sights and odors that all cow sheds must share. And here is my point. No one who had ever encountered a real cow shed, or who had ever even heard a just description of a cow shed, would ever, ever have given the name of “Cowshed” to a line of toiletries.

First people moved off the farm—whereas a century ago, a majority of workers in the United States was employed in agriculture, now agricultural labor accounts for only two or three percent of the workforce. And then people forgot farm life so completely that they could be persuaded to suppose that the words “cow shed” ought to conjure up notions of fragrance, not feces.

Progress. I’ll take it, I suppose, but it can be very odd.

There are 79 comments.

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  1. Member

    As I ride my bike through the farmlands of Western Washington that surround my home, I frequently pass cow barns which on a warm day emit an aroma that is unmistakable for what it is. In fact, a segment of a route I ride is actually called “Stinky Road” in reference to the large cow farm whose pastures sit on either side of the road. It is definitely not a fragrance I would want in my bathroom or among my toiletries. I don’t mind it on my rides so long as it isn;t constant, but as a steady diet….Naw!

    I should add that chicken farms and barns are significantly worse. Passing one of them, particularly when climbing a long hill is a special kind of torture which could perhaps be added to the circles of Hell.

    • #1
    • May 20, 2017 at 9:10 am
    • 8 likes
  2. Member

    I hadn’t seen this before, but what were they thinking?! At first, I thought maybe there’s a new slang term “cowsh,” and “cowshed” is its past participle. But no. I googled them, and they do say the name is indeed cow shed. Even if it were “cowshed, the past participle of cowsh,” it would have been one of those unfortunate names such as Kate Hudson’s new line of yoga pants. She calls it “Fabletics,” which is meant to be pronounced “Fab-LET-Ics, but if I hadn’t seen the TV commercial, I’d have said Fable Tics.

    • #2
    • May 20, 2017 at 9:17 am
    • 11 likes
  3. Thatcher

    Maybe we should force kids to go to farms in school.

    • #3
    • May 20, 2017 at 9:22 am
    • 4 likes
  4. Inactive

    • #4
    • May 20, 2017 at 9:23 am
    • 4 likes
  5. Member

    Ode to the Urban Cowboy.

    • #5
    • May 20, 2017 at 9:23 am
    • 1 like
  6. Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    I hadn’t seen this before, but what were they thinking?! At first, I thought maybe there’s a new slang term “cowsh,” and “cowshed” is its past participle.

    I read it that way too. I like the nonsense words better than the idea of washing my hands in dirty cow. Were they trying to imply that it would clean even a dirty cow? Looking at the bottle before I read the post I wondered if it was one of those healthier through dirtier ideas. This product confuses me.

    • #6
    • May 20, 2017 at 9:26 am
    • 5 likes
  7. Member

    Holy cow, God shed his grace on thee

    • #7
    • May 20, 2017 at 9:53 am
    • 8 likes
  8. Inactive

    Peter Robinson:…That cow shed housed an enormous bull and a couple of cows, who every day produced gallons of manure and urine from one end and, from the other, of mucous, which streamed from their noses unendingly…

    You had me hooked right there, Peter. I couldn’t wait to read the rest.

    • #8
    • May 20, 2017 at 9:58 am
    • 4 likes
  9. Member

    We have horses, , not cows–and it amazes me how many people who have seen horses on TV or in movies, and ask to approach ours, are gagging at the smell when I bring them to the barn. (And by the way, that’s just the smell of very occasional habitation–they’re pastured and not kept in the stalls except when waiting to be tacked up. )

    Y’know….you see an animal that big, uh, doesn’t it occur to you that it’s gonna eat, and excrete, a lot more than you do? And, it doesn’t enjoy flush toilets like you do.

    Plus, all cattle, that’s cows’n horses, prudently evacuate their bowels frequently, so as to be lighter if they have to flee. They are prey animals, after all.

    Although I swear by a product called Cowboy Magic if you need to untangle your hair, I don’t think I’d be tempted by Cowshed cosmetics..

    • #9
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:13 am
    • 14 likes
  10. Member

    From their website, I gather they meant to convey natural, bucolic, untainted by urban poisons, etc. I can picture the brainstorming session now: “Okay it’s narrowed down to Cowsheds, Horse Placenta, or Hog Snouts. Show of hands?”

    • #10
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:20 am
    • 15 likes
  11. Inactive

    A priest once described to me “snake vomit soup” that he dined on in South East Asia. That was while we were eating. I ate light that evening.

    • #11
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:24 am
    • 12 likes
  12. Moderator
    She

    Good grief. Perhaps it’s actually happening.

    Our very own @skipsul recently posted on the current trend among the more-money-than-sense generation towards pre-worn-looking (but not really) clothing, as exemplified by Nordstrom’s ($495 I believe, but sold out) dirty blue jeans (There are several pairs that look just like this in my laundry basket right now. I think they all came from Walmart or Target. I applied the distressed finish myself, after purchase, at no extra charge).

    @lilybart pointed out the reviews on the Nordstrom page, one of which read:

    Gotta love being able to look like I have fed the pigs, helped deliver a calf, and get the tractor unstuck** without ever having to leave my BMW. Love it.

    and I commented:

    I can’t wait till they start marketing the perfume to go with the ‘look,’ for the complete experience. It’s not the same without the smell. I know.

    And I do know, although my little farm has sheep and goats, not cows. However, the olfactory experience is not dissimilar.

    What an unfortunate name. Except to those who’ve never been in one.

    **Two of us actually did spend a significant chunk of yesterday morning getting the tractor unstuck from the mud, into which it had sunk up to both axles. I was too busy to remember to take a photo of the thing while it was stuck, but here’s the aftermath:

    Several times during our rescue mission, my boots actually came off and got stuck in the mud, and my feet went into the mud, half-way to my knees. If mudpacks do for feet what they’re alleged to do for ladies’ faces, I ought to have the most beautiful feet in North America today. Wait! I sense a marketing opportunity! Calling 1-800-COWSHED right now. Back after I make my first million.

    • #12
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:27 am
    • 21 likes
  13. Member

    I have no problem with the peristaltic output of sheep, cows, or horses; chickens in quantity are olfactorally annoying, but pigs — pigs are downright offensive.

    • #13
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:31 am
    • 10 likes
  14. Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    From their website, I gather they meant to convey natural, bucolic, untainted by urban poisons, etc. I can picture the brainstorming session now: “Okay it’s narrowed down to Cowsheds, Horse Placenta, or Hog Snouts. Show of hands?”

    ??????I am familiar with horse placenta. If you have a dog, you have to be diligent about finding it and putting it out of the pup’s reach.

    Remember those billboards advertising Outhouse Springs Water? Back in 2003, people evidently actually ordered the stuff (look it up under “hoaxes”). If outhouses, with their little half-moon openings, can now be regarded as cute, well, anything is possible! (At least if you’ve never been near one in use for even a weekend..)

    • #14
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:42 am
    • 3 likes
  15. Inactive

    Sounds like They need to be taken to the woodshed to knock some sense into Them (knock some scents out of Them?).

    • #15
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:43 am
    • 8 likes
  16. Member

    I assume the name was supposed to bring to mind bag balm, a cream for healing dry and cracked udders. It also works well on human dry skin. There was a commercial product that came in a cow skin decorated tub. My wife has always held that cow manure was the least offensive of animal manures.

    • #16
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:46 am
    • 4 likes
  17. Moderator
    She

    Jim Mather (View Comment):

    I assume the name was supposed to bring to mind bag balm, a cream for healing dry and cracked udders. It also works well on human dry skin. There was a commercial product that came in a cow skin decorated tub.

    Bag Balm is still a thing, and I’ve used Udder Butter (available at your local Tractor Supply) for years in the winter (on my hands . . . .).

    • #17
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:54 am
    • 4 likes
  18. Member

    There have been a few times in my life where I’ve consoled myself, pitchfork in hand, with the thought “It smells like money.”

    • #18
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:54 am
    • 13 likes
  19. Member

    Chicken chit is remarkably good fertilizer. But they wouldn’t be worth it if not for the eggs.

    Needless to say, baconators earn their keep.

    • #19
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:23 am
    • 4 likes
  20. Member

    Peter Robinson: First people moved off the farm—

    Then they move back to inhabit the old farm buildings. @peterrobinson, it may be your Oxford cottage were highbrow accommodations. I bet someone lives in that cottage cowshed now!

    From the Cowshed website:

    Since opening our first spa in the old cowshed at Babington House, Somerset England in 1998, our ambition has been to create spas and products that are always honest, natural and true to our British heritage.

    When in France, I stayed in a “cottage” that had previously been a stone built 1790’s cowshed. It was a lovely refurbish that kept all of the original accoutrements except the hay and manure. We even had the feeding trough which was repurposed as a dish drainer and kitchen storage area!

    I guess we colonists didn’t build our cowsheds to last like the Europeans!

    I think Cowshed’s botanical design is clever but quirky. It has the botanical look, but is reminiscent of a spotted cow, while having uncanny resemblance to a drawing of germs.

    Modern Agri-chic?

    • #20
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:38 am
    • 5 likes
  21. Inactive

    At age 15 I enjoyed a side effect of working on a dairy farm. After three days cow droppings begin to smell sweet rather than sour. My mother yelled at me when I came home wearing my boots into the house with the smell on them. I told her it didn’t smell bad any more and she just exhaled, her usual response to teenage nonsense.

    • #21
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:38 am
    • 12 likes
  22. Contributor

    Perhaps Ricochet should come up with its own products with names that are anachronistically incongruous. Outhouse Whiskey comes to mind, or how about Tanning Works Cigars?

    There was a tanning factory in my old hometown, Pallets of cowhides outside in the sun on a humid summer day are something you’ll never forget. Worse than that? The Gloucester glue factory. Truckloads of beef bones and fish remains, now that leaves a mark.

    Want a beer? Have a Fish Head!

    • #22
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:41 am
    • 4 likes
  23. Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Chicken chit is remarkably good fertilizer. But they wouldn’t be worth it if not for the eggs.

    You have to be careful with it. It’s very high in nitrogen. I’ve seen it burn crops.

    • #23
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:44 am
    • 3 likes
  24. Member

    El Colonel (View Comment):
    anachronistically incongruous.

    The incongruity can help the brand. It makes us notice, maybe even laugh. Then we remember next time we shop.

    • #24
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:45 am
    • 1 like
  25. Member

    Next up: Chicken Coup. Now there’s a fragrance!

    • #25
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:46 am
    • 8 likes
  26. Thatcher

    Daphnesdad (View Comment):
    At age 15 I enjoyed a side effect of working on a dairy farm. After three days cow droppings begin to smell sweet rather than sour. My mother yelled at me when I came home wearing my boots into the house with the smell on them. I told her it didn’t smell bad any more and she just exhaled, her usual response to teenage nonsense.

    I grew up spending summers on my grandmother’s and my uncles’ dairy farms, and I noticed something similar on a trip to the county fair. The poultry barns were foul-smelling (and fowl-smelling, I guess). The swine barns were worse, and the sheepcotes were worse than that. The cattle barns bothered me not a whit. I think it is mostly due to acclimation.

    I don’t think anyone is going to be producing toiletries named “Sheepcote” any time soon.

    • #26
    • May 20, 2017 at 12:43 pm
    • 5 likes
  27. Member

    • #27
    • May 20, 2017 at 12:47 pm
    • 15 likes
  28. Member

    Maybe there is a flower? I think there is one named cowslip?

    I agree cows are not clean or fragrant, but cartoon cows are cute.

    • #28
    • May 20, 2017 at 1:06 pm
    • 3 likes
  29. Thatcher

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    From their website, I gather they meant to convey natural, bucolic, untainted by urban poisons, etc. I can picture the brainstorming session now: “Okay it’s narrowed down to Cowsheds, Horse Placenta, or Hog Snouts. Show of hands?”

    You’re already working on a cartoon of this, aren’t you?

    • #29
    • May 20, 2017 at 1:10 pm
    • 3 likes
  30. Member

    Oh oh, next a pasty line: Cowpies! Sounds delicious when the words are connected!

    • #30
    • May 20, 2017 at 1:12 pm
    • 7 likes
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