Frances, in the back looking at the camera.  Her own calf, in the foreground looking at the camera.  And a few of the other calves, hanging out.

We have total of ten bull calves at the moment, although only seven are out in the field with Frances.

They are her herd.  She’s Boss Cow. She loves it.  She does not want to be a mother after the first hour or so, but she loves, loves, loves having her boys later on when they are weaned.

It’s an instinct. She can’t help it.

Cattle are prey animals. They tend to herd up because there is safety in numbers.

Predators pick off the weak and vulnerable members of the herd.  They go after whoever is lagging behind, or whoever is older or younger and can’t keep up.  There is safety in staying in the middle, with the pack.

But you know what?  That’s not just a tiny herd of cattle in that photo. Those are all individuals.  Frances is obvious.  Her calf is obvious to me because I know what he looks like. He and all the others have ear tags. On those tags is information that tells us who they are (actually, who their dam is) so that when they go to the dairy, their papers can be properly filled out (these are all registered Jerseys).

Furthermore, each one of them has a personality.  Frances’ calf is friendlier, and we have to sort of shun him at this point because you don’t want a Jersey bull calf to be friendly.  He’ll start considering himself a human and that’s how farmers get killed.

There’s one little guy out there we call Houdini.  He managed to get out of his pen and into the paddock with the bigger calves one day. He had a wonderful time, but scared the shit out of us when we couldn’t find him.  He’s curious as hell and a total pain in the ass.

Those calves are all individuals.

And so are “trolls.”

All the critics, every single one, are individuals with different levels of interest in various things, with different experiences.

If you made a set of all the people who have ever criticized the Naugler parents, it would contain a whole lot of people.  Hundreds and hundreds of people.

Then you have the set of all the people who the Nauglers have pissed off, wronged, insulted, cheated or otherwise alienated, and that’s another huge set of people.

Some of those people criticized them once or twice online, failed for some reason to catch Nicole or Joe’s eye, and moved on about 18 months ago, having never looked at the story again.

Others fell in the rabbit hole and have never climbed back out. (I’m raising my hand here.)

Probably most people in that set fall someplace in the middle.

Some have had personal experience at the hands of either Joe or Nicole, personal negative experience, and have come by their enmity that way. Others have interacted with them online and been put off by that. And still others just find the whole debacle interesting as hell and can’t look away.

Nicole and Joe lump us all together. I know I’ve said this often, but I get very tired of it.  I am not a Siamese twin to Lisa.  I am not Al’s puppet.  None of us agree all the time about anything.

Some of the “trolls” are liberals, like me. Some are very conservative. Some have never said what they think about politics so I have no idea. Some are religious. Others are not.  Some are vehemently critical and like to rant and rave about it (often a bit too much from my point of view).  Still others are way more generous (often a bit too much from where I’m sitting).

Some of the “trolls” are very active. Others sit back quietly and watch. Most are in-between.

Nicole and Joe claim that somehow “the trolls” encompass one monolithic group that moves like a school of fish.  One group, with one purpose, moving in sync.

It’s not like that, of course. Life is never like that.

But we’re sort of a herd, in a way. A community has built up around this subject, something like the community that has built up around the subject of, say, cloth diapers, or making ukuleles.  You can find an online group or groups encompassing any subject you can imagine.  I bet everyone reading this has made friends online because of all sorts of different things, from music to knitting to political activism.

We’re a herd in the way that those calves are a herd. Notice in the photo that they aren’t in any particular position. They are facing every which way.  Some are looking at the camera. Others are ignoring it. And there are two calves who were someplace else when the photograph was taken.  What they have in common is that they are all Jersey bull calves (except Frances who is a cow).

Nobody tells anyone else what to write. Nobody dictates which pages do what, or even what page exists or how it’s run or anything even remotely resembling that. I’ve made it abundantly clear that I object to much of what occurs on Facebook and that’s why I don’t participate there.  But that doesn’t mean that anyone else has to listen to me or react to what I say, and they don’t.

What we have in common, and the only thing we have in common, is that for one reason or another, we’re following the Naugler saga, the one the Naugler parents have chosen to advertise and promulgate online widely and publicly.  Period.

We band together, disparate though we are, in very large part because prey animals have an instinct to do that.  There is safety in numbers, and there are predators out there.