Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Ultimate Tribute

March 14th, 2011 · 6 Comments

I just split my morning between two fruitless tasks: the first an investigation of pending nuclear projects in the developing world, the second an attempt to understand naming conventions in the world of cattle breeding. My curiosity about the latter issue was piqued by news of a bull auction in North Platte, Nebraska, where bovines with such tongue-twisting names as SLGN Copperlass Tiara 7101T X SLGN Stockman 632S will soon change hands. I feel like there must be some method to the naming madness, but I don’t have nearly enough time to put in the proper research. Perhaps later in the week…

I did, however, run across this nifty breakdown of Estonian cow names. Good to see that our dairy-farming friends in the Baltics have a sense of humor about their herds:

In all, 7,161 cow names are listed. The uninspiring but solid “Mustik”, which translates roughly as “black cow”, comes out on top, accounting for well over half the total. Other popular choices include common Estonian female names, such as Ursula, Piret and Kadri.

Other monikers exhibit the “unique” Estonian brand of humour. Some 205 cows go by “Keku”, meaning someone who is vain. Thirty-five are named “Mammut” (mammoth). Whether by accident or by design, Estonian celebrities are also accounted for. The name “Kiku” appears 438 times on the list. Besides being a slang word for baby teeth, it’s also the nickname of Olympic skiing star Kristiina Shmigun.

I will not rest until a cow or bull bears the name Microkhan. That is truly the only real metric for success for these days.


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6 Comments so far ↓

  • PW

    Hey hey: Wrote a quick piece a couple years ago on cow-naming in Britain. Might check in with the author of the paper. She was a delight and might have some thoughts for ye. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/gl5sc7.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @PW: Thanks!

    My hunch is that naming conventions among breeders are different than among farmers. Breeder names are prob. designed to reflect both lineage and presence of certain genes (hence all those numbers).

  • Pete Warden

    > I will not rest until a cow or bull bears the name Microkhan

    I didn’t manage to get a cow named after me, but I was tickled pink to get a bull as my “O’Reilly Animal”:

    The mysterious process they use to pick an animal is pretty fascinating in its own right:

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Pete Warden: Makes me wonder if any writers have ever objected to the animal their book got. I’m sure most folks would prefer, say, a tiger to an otter…

  • jackal

    Will yaks do? I suspect you might have some luck with cher Microkhan among english-speaking (or seeking to learn) owners of small yaks in the northern steppes.

    On an unrelated note, recently acquired ipad v2 and really dug the atavist app and Piano Demon. A great direction for long-form writing to take!

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @jackal: Yes, a yak named in my honor would be more than sufficient. As long as the yak in question belonged to one of the more noble breeds:


    So glad you liked The Atavist and Piano Demon. I think we’re just scratching the surface in terms of how the tablet can bolster longform non-fiction. More cool projects tk, for sure…