Living in the city a person doesn’t see much wildlife. Sure a stray dog here, stray cat there, cute fuzzy squirrel running up a tree, and maybe the occasional camel walking down the street (true story), but a person doesn’t see much beyond that. Living in the village is a different story. Just driving through the little villages not more than 10 minutes outside Bishkek a person can see there is a difference. One could say that the livestock here are free-range; they roam wherever they want. Herds of sheep, cattle, and horses cross the road all the time (although I’ve never seen a chicken cross the road). For people who grew up on farms, in small towns and villages farm animals are nothing special, but for a city slicker kid who just moved to the village, every animal is exciting.
My son is in his “I love all animals of all kinds” phase. A few months ago he watched a video with pictures of farm animals set to the tune of “Old MacDonald had a Farm” and he was more excited than I have ever seen him, his little heart beating rapidly with every verse. Karakol is no exception to the small town, village feel. Along almost every street cows and sheep graze peacefully, that is until Ryan sees them. “It’s a cow!” he will enthusiastically yell at the top of his little lungs and point in the direction of said animal. “It’s a cow!” he will yell louder. Right now to him every animal bigger than a dog is a cow. “No, Ryan, that’s a horse,” I’ll correct gently. “No, Ryan, those are sheep and please keep your voice down.” It’s fun to see him get riled up at the sight of sheep, cows, dogs, and birds, at least while we are outside. His sudden, piercing yell while we are driving is enough to make a person swerve off the road. “Settle down, Ryan. Use your inside voice,” I tell him. “It’s a cow,” he’ll respond almost whispering. I’m not sure when his fascination with these animals will wane, for the sake of our ears and embarrassment (his little yell will get all people staring at us), but for now I will count it for what it is: cute.