CARL WEATHERS IS HAVING A CUP of coffee in a small town near Everett, Wash., when a woman recognizes him instantly. That's nothing new for Weathers; ever since 1976, when he played Sylvester Stallone's rival Apollo Creed in Rocky, he's been stopped by fans almost every day. But this is no fan.

"How's the cows, Carl?" she asks.

"Doin' great," says Weathers. "Got some good grass coming up this year."

"Great, Carl. See ya."

That's it. No autograph request, no queries about what Sly is really like. "In the beginning I was the guy from the movies," says Weathers, 48. "Now people just ask me about my cows."

They would be the more than 100 head of Limousin cattle he's been breeding since 1994 on his 200-acre ranch, Heaven on Earth. "I named it that because that's what it is for me," says Weathers, who took up heifer-handling after hearing friends talk about it. "I guess I just fell in love with the smell of cow patties."

An acquired taste, obviously. Not originally a child of the soil, the New Orleans native played Canadian foot-ball before turning to acting full-time. Rocky's huge success (it was just rereleased on video) brought Weathers steady work, most recently as a golf coach in this year's Happy Gilmore.

Divorced (he has two sons, 17 and 20), Weathers now lives with Elaine Thompson, a photographer. And while he still considers film projects, he visits his Marina del Rey, Calif., home only a couple of times a month. "Most of the scripts Tread aren't worthy," he says. "So I stay up here with my cows." He plans someday to have 700 head. "I'm following my bliss," say Weathers. "People used to shout, 'Yo, Apollo!' Now it's more, 'Yo, Carl.' " Or, more often than not, Mooo, Carl.