Saturday, January 28, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 27th Installment

       If we want that heifer to go somewhere, it won’t go there, no matter how much we scream and wave our arms, and if we try to stop it, we’re going to get hurt,” I picked up a stick, intent on inflicting serious pain and charged after the heifer whooping, hollering and wielding the club overhead. The cow actually seemed to sense my anger toward it and raced out the gate before I could do damage in its hind quarters with my club.

Russ thought this was pretty funny; we laughed at each other quite often. Russ said, “I remember when we used to take a bucket and the one–legged stool and walk up to the cow in the field. Most of the time, the cow would stand for us because it needed to be milked to ease the pressure. Old Rosy would let down her milk when she saw us coming, so by the time we would balance on our mono seat, bucket between our knees, and grab the teats; the milk would already be spraying out like four tiny squirt guns.”

       The cows, even though their care was difficult and infuriating, formed our work ethic, the stimulus of our responsibility to animals. Russ and I formed our ‘drive’ as much from the cows as from the teachings of our parents and the owners of the many farms where we worked. They needed care and feeding, but mostly the necessity of milking every morning and every evening at the same time no matter what. If they went too long and they let down their milk the cows would suffer; at the least the milk would drain away to relive the pressure but at the worst there would be damage to the utter causing mastitis that would hurt them and also hurt us because we can't sell mastitis milk. The mastitis milk and the colostrum milk (this milk is pink) that cows produce the first five days after calving we would feed to the pigs. The family never missed a milking! Once in a while Russ and I would need to be away and Vernon and Linda did the chores and milking, but that wasn't very often.
        “Old Rosy,” I filled in when Russ stopped. We named our cows. Let me try to give you a rundown. There was “Boss,” the old cow with a crumpled horn (truly) that would come in from the field when we yelled for her. The Old Man would holler ‘CO BOSS, CO BOSS,’ and Boss would come in on her own. The others, being simpleton cows, would fall into line and follow her. Hence the term ‘cow path,’ a trench worn into the earth by a long line of brainless cows following each other. Boss could fill two or three buckets in one milking or sometimes nearly five.

Buttercup was a miserable bovine, if there ever was one, a real nervous Nelly, constantly moving around. Sometimes the dance

500 more words tomorrow

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