A Cow Named James

A Cow Named James

HeyJules posted a weathervane on her blog The Way I See It a few days ago and her photo reminded me of this weather vane which flies high atop one of the barns at the University of Wisconsin’s agricultural complex in downtown Madison. (Except her photo was of a horse vane, and quite a lot smaller.)

I’m not really sure why the name James is on the vane – perhaps it really is the name of the cow, or more likely the name of a farm family.

Addition to the post: I decided I had better check to see if I could find out why this cow was named James. And I did find out. Seems there was a company called the James Co. out of Fort Atkinson, WI that made large weather vanes in a variety of animal shapes around the 1900s. I found quite a few examples through antique dealers’ sites: several rooster vanes – these all seem to have been used for target practice and have bullet holes in them – and another cow vane. One dealer recently sold a James weather vane for $1300, so evidently they are collector’s items.

If you want to learn some pretty awesome information about weather vanes in general, including why 18th Century vanes required a king’s permission, and what a 9th Century papal decree decreed about vanes, this short article on these silhouettes in the sky will tell all.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. The pictures are really carrying the mind away with them.

  2. HeyJules says:

    I love it!

  3. I like weathervanes. This is a particularly nice one because it has a cow, and I like cows too. 🙂

  4. Srinivas _ thanks for visiting

    Jules – yes, quite fun. cows are big in Wisconsin!

    Robin – they are certainly a piece of history, very interesting objects, actually.

  5. Cool about the history. I love the silhouette of the cow.

  6. Gandalf says:

    Instead of James and the Giant Peach we have James and the metal cow. Cool.

    Nice background & history. I always enjoy the extra you bring to your post. It adds so much to the images you craft.

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