Commenter of the week

Foreword by Cameron Slater:

This post has been a long time coming. Very early in the year a few of us realised that we hadn’t heard from cows4me for quite some time.? A bit of research went in and we all discovered that the much-loved commenter had passed away. Not one of us knew what he was going through in the lead-up, he was that kind of private. He’d mentioned many times that he was going to Auckland for this or that, but never the real reason. When trying to find out what had happened to cows4me we discovered this photo, which epitomised the man.


There he was jimmying up a solution in true Taranaki fashion to get around some rule or another. Just like his extreme distaste for Greens, climate change and general womble uselessness. His comments were hilarious and I would often check last thing at night to see what cows4me had said, so I could go to sleep with a smile.

I am incredibly proud of my team for putting together this series to honour a man who probably never knew how much of a difference he made to a whole lot of people.

Vale cows4me

This week, the Commenter of the Week has been well heralded, and although the recognition is awarded posthumously, it is also well deserved. cows4me was a much loved Taranaki farmer, who had his own very special brand of humour and wit. He was a down to earth individual, as most farmers tend to be, and he was popular with most readers. His demise, earlier this year, brought a lot of sadness among those who frequent this blog.

But today, having featured a lot of his posts during the week, we have decided to post some tributes to the man himself from those on the blog who may not have known him personally, but who felt as if they did.

This is from our wonderful moderator, Nige. quote

When I started reading Whaleoil there were only about 5 or 6 regular commenters who stood out. They were Hookerphil, Dave, Blokeintakapuna, Lab Tested, Navy Greg (Greg M) and among others,?Cows4me.

I had never experienced regular commenters on a forum before – well not that I recognised anyway. Certainly none who came across as so ordinary and yet so experienced in their fields.

Often, in the early days, topics would swing away from the subject matter and the articles were short. The comments section was a way of having a looooong conversation between like minded people, while waiting for the next post from Cam to arrive. Back then, posts weren’t regular. There could be a few on any day, or there might be a lot. The topics were very varied but the discussion would often revert to either guns or farming. Not knowing much about either, it was a great way of eavesdropping into older men’s conversations, and I learned a lot. I still do.

Cows4me was like an uncle. Seriously. He gave his opinions when he felt he had something to share, and would never belittle those in the conversation who perhaps didn’t have as much to offer as he did. Only a couple of times did I see him hand someone their arse. Sometimes, it was Cam! Those two would have a bit of a go at each other over farming subsidy issues, with cows never taking a backwards step. In fact it may have been these exchanges with the owner of the blog that taught me that you DON’T have to tow the line on Whaleoil. You could disagree with the owner, or anyone else for that matter and you wouldn’t get banned necessarily.

After a few years I began to comment. A Saturday morning exchange in General Debate with Blokeintakapuna had me all giddy that I had engaged successfully with one of the “older boys” and I started to interact more often. One day I found that there was actually very little that Cows4me?and I disagreed upon. This made me both happy and sad. It meant that the only way I was going to interact with him was if I was a sycophant. Well no one does sycophancy like me. While Cam and many other people hate it, I can’t help but express my gratitude to people and give credit where credit is due. For example, I tried to compare raising a few chooks in the back yard to living a country life with cows4me one morning. He quickly came back with a reply along the lines of his daughter insisting on keeping HER chooks in the house too, and in fact he could have his breakfast egg laid almost directly on his computer keyboard before having it cooked for him.

There was another time when I engaged with him and wished that I hadn’t. It was after I had become a moderator and I had asked in a nightly question – “What was the worst job you have ever had to do”. Well… you should never ask that question of a farmer. He answered and I couldn’t make sense of it. There had been a word used which I didn’t recognise, yet a few people had agreed with him that this was incomparable. I asked in General Debate the next morning exactly what it was. It was a term used (which I can’t remember) for when a vet and a farmer worked together to extract a deceased calf from it’s mother… in pieces… and often there would have to be multiple hands “up there”. The words he used were very matter of fact, yet they weren’t hollow at all. Like all genuine farmers, in my opinion, the lives a farmer brings into the world (or in this case TRIED to) were never to be taken for granted…. especially when they were ‘taxed calculated’ before they were even born – a point which I sympathised with him about often.

Nope. The life of a farmer isn’t easy. He shared his life’s lessons about trying to make a buck here and there. In Australia, there had been a project which didn’t work out, but he shared what he had learned with us in his 17,071 comments of his regular account. (There are another two weeks worth somewhere in the catacombs of Disqus from a time when the computer was turned off for the first time in ages, and there were no ‘young ‘uns’ around to help with the login process. I was quite chuffed to have been the one to handle his emails behind the scenes, and to help him get his regular account up and running again. That was a weird couple of weeks with a strange looking cow as his avatar.)

But the most fascinating thing he spoke about was the direction that he saw this planet taking. Amidst the funny nicknames he had for his most loathed politicians, there was a certain and undeniable amount of prediction all based around the facts of his past experiences.

Socialism and its many faces and shapes and forms were made apparent through his words. Comparisons of modern politicians to past dictators were noted and I found myself hanging on to his every word. He really was able to quickly recognise intent with policy when it was announced. Just this week, Labour are making noises about ACC going back to the levels it was at before John Key made car registration more affordable. Cows would have almost certainly said something along the lines of “Enjoy it while it’s there. It’s only a matter of time before the retarded lefties roll it back to where it was and beyond and then charge us poor bloody sods interest for loss of earnings”.

Anyway. I think I’ve just about covered my feelings for the great farmer from the ‘naki. Someone who I told frequently was “on my bucket list” to visit. Well that may never happen in the physical world, but I certainly met him in the online world. His need to share his frustrations drove him to go through the suffering of the technical, fandangled, townie gadgets that were usually reserved for the high flying go-getters of the big smoke.

He mastered the keyboard and then he mastered the comments section of Whaleoil.

Here is quote from him about how he saw himself, and I couldn’t be more proud to be one of those he describes:

“Whaleoil provides accurate, newsworthy articles that will stimulate the mind and political awareness”. Don’t get out much do you Zephyr. I don’t think your opinion of Whaleoil is shared by the many blogs I have visited. Something more like ‘devils spawn, right wing retards, the intellectually challenged’ are quite common comments, so I guess he’s doing something right.”

Here’s to you, sir. I hope you have a great seat where ever you are because this bloody show ain’t over yet, not by a long shot. We will go on ever in your absence. THANK YOU for giving us Cows4me. end quote

Wow. That was a truly beautiful tribute, Nige. I’m sure cows would be delighted, in his own self-deprecating way.

I only realised in the last few days that cows, or Crusty as he was known to family and friends, was only 59. What a tragedy.

So, THANK YOU to cows4me for all of your contributions to the blog in your time. Your comments were always appreciated, and as you can see, you are sorely missed.

(What I liked best was the clever way you managed to get around the moderators. Believe me, that takes a special skill.)

And although you will never see it, here is a token of our gratitude for all that you have contributed in your time as a commenter on Whaleoil. From Technomage:


Gone, but not forgotten, cows4me. May you rest easy, forever.