Cows, cows, cows: One alumna’s journey to name her herd

Kathy Kyle ('91E)
August 7, 2020

My name is Kathy Kyle and I travelled with Cast E 91.  At the time, I was a 22-year-old city girl from Saskatoon, Canada, who had a hope to work with elderly people, likely in a social work setting.

Almost 30 years later, I am in a life quite different than that initial dream.

After an amazing and challenging year on the road with 91E, I found my way into training to be a nursing home chaplain, and then to become an ordained minister. The church assigned me to two little towns in the corner of Saskatchewan. I was a single minister who was certain I would return to city life as soon as possible… the thing is, however, that within a week of arriving here I met a very memorable cowboy, Russell.

Kathy with her cowboy, Russell.

Over time, romance developed and I let go of my earlier visions of life as we married and had three children. I began to learn how to run a family business, as we became the senior generation on the ranch where Russell grew up.

A few years ago we decided to start naming our cows—we had always used numbered tags in their ears, but we all found it hard to remember numbers when reporting back about a certain cows’ situation. Names seem more natural to our brains, of course!

Over the years, we’ve had many themes for our cows’ names; we’ve used Disney characters and even used the names of the M*A*S*H TV show cast the year we watched all of those seasons.

What really transformed cow life for me, however, was when I asked my Facebook friends for new naming suggestions. My castmate Liz suggested naming my herd after the members of Cast E 1991, and we began to do just that.

‘Til the cows come home: Kathy’s son leads the herd back home; also in the front row: Cows “Fredy” from Switzerland and “Lance” from Georgia, USA.

Remember, I am a city girl.  All of this does not come so naturally to me… however, with about 50 cast names in our herd of 500 cows, I have found myself more attached to the cows, more excited about seeing them and absolutely thrilled to check the herd in calving season—and find one of my UWP pals has had a baby!

New mom, Andrew, pictured with her newborn calf.

That happened just this week.  We were touring the calving cows this morning (still have eight to calve) with company, and we discovered that Andrew had a baby (we’ve named our female cows with male names—it feels great to have all the names out there circulating!). The enthusiasm has spread through the family.

It has given me a reason to talk to my family about my castmates; share about where they live and their communities; and recently, when we had a cast Zoom call, my family was eager to hear about who was on.

I’ve enjoyed getting pictures and posting them to our cast Facebook page, and it’s provided a positive distraction during these COVID times. It’s made the world feel a lot closer; it’s genuinely been gratifying to see that others in the cast have taken some joy in this as well.

While I’ve worried a vegetarian person might not want a cow named after them; or that a man might not want to hear that he had a baby; or that any of us might not want to have our names associated with a cow (we have negative body associations about that in our culture!), none of that has come to my attention.

It has been a purely positive experience, and I am so thankful that Liz suggested this!

As cows lose their ear tags (and therefore need a replacement), or as old cows get culled and replaced with new ones, we look forward to continuing to invite cast member names into our herd. We are always glad to find sources of fun in our everyday living, and I encourage everyone to do so—whether you have a cow herd or not.


Kathy, center, “works” her cows with assistance from Russell and her daughter (pictured behind); a process of sorting the cows, they’re generally in the working pen for up to three hours before going back out to pasture.



  1. What a fun article

  2. What a great idea!!!! I love it????????????. If you ever run “ out of names,” I give you permission to use mine if you wish!!! I am from 68B, 69A, 70C.

  3. Enjoyed very much. Lovely sentiment!

  4. What a great idea! Such fun, too—and lively conversation starters when you zoom with your cast!

  5. Fabulous story! Thanks for sharing. Barbara ’67A-’69A

  6. Really cool story. I was raised on a farm and owned a farm when I joined UWP in 1982. I too was single and after farming as a single guy, with my parents, and working 18 hours a day I quit faming and moved to the city!

    I just got back from the farm I bought in 1978(which I sold to my parents and have inherited with siblings again) and once again re-did the waterway I re-did in 1979! A lot of memories!!

  7. Wow! Love it so much. This is Samson CastB18. Just wanna share you that culturally it is very strange to put person’s name on animal especially dogs but the funny thing is that we name them like persons’ name but not Malagasy name, for example: Toutou,Loulou, Milou, Boby,… It is very strange if you name someone like these. Speaking of cow, we have very special names for them for each dialect (we have over 18 dialects) and depends on the colors (we have a lot of colors) of the cows. Let me give 2 examples: if the cow has a white head, we call the “Mazava loha” literally meaning “lighted head”, the black males named “Joby lahy”. Thanks to cultural exchanges and of course my UWP experience, I see it’s cool and not different to name an animal like a person’s name. It reminds me that my host family in Denmark has a horse named Samson, it was so surprising to me and I thought they were joking. It motivated me to feed this horse every day, ride her ( my very first time) and have an affection with her. Thank you very much for sharing this story and I wish my name will be one of your cows.

  8. Loved your story and had to comment as a fellow Canadian. Interesting to the twists and turns of life that take us in unexpected directions! Love the humour you bring to your life in rather trying times.

  9. This is such a fun story. Thank you for sharing. Our son is raising grass fed beef in Gunnison Colorado with his two sons and wife and daughter. he along with his parents had the awesome UP With People experience.
    SO love how life stories intertwine and bring joy!!!

  10. Cow-terrific!
    From a chaplain to a real ‘life’ missionary! You go girl and thank you for sharing the true gospel of joy!
    Becky Hamman

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