Mo’ Cow StoriesThursday, March 5, 2009
So did anyone but me notice that I screwed up with my tip of the day yesterday? I had moved a couple of tips around in the order they are being sent out and I forgot to change the header to those that get it in an html format. If you get the tip in a text format you wouldn’t have noticed anything different but the html format mistakenly called yesterdays tip #7. Yes I know it was only tip 4. Tomorrow will be tip 5, I assure you.
Ok, you asked for it. My absolutely, hands down, no question about it FAVOURITE time on the farm was the day I got to turn a dry cow out to pasture. Let me explain a little bit about what goes on with milking cows. As I am sure you know cows produce milk after they have had a calf. In the ideal situation the cows are milked for 305 days after they have given birth. At some time after 63 days of lactating they would have been bred again so that the cycle can continue throughout their life. The “dry” period for a cow is that time they have off just before they give birth again. If my memory serves me correctly I think this ended up being 2 months, more if they didn’t “catch” on their first breeding. Where I worked I eventually grew into a position where I helped to manage the herd with things like health checks & sire selection (no bull, really. . . ok bad one, I promise I won’t do it again). The milking cows on this farm where housed indoors during their entire milking cycle. They where housed in a big huge barn where they could roam about on slatted floors. Twice a day they where ushered into the milk parlor for their bi-daily chore of giving up the milk. There were windows that were left open and two big doors with a gate across that, during the warm months, allowed the cows to look outside, but that was extent of the outdoor time the cattle saw, until they were dried off. When this happened, everyone on the farm knew to come and get me as I had to be the one to turn the cows out. I did it for five years and laugh my ass off every single time. Sometimes tears would roll down my face. I don’t know if I can describe the scene well enough for you to understand but I will try. I would lead the cows down a path between the barn that lead to a door outside. Immediately outside the door was a cement barnyard where the outside cows would get extra feed put in a manger for them twice a day. Beyond the barnyard was several acres of grassy pasture where the outside cows would spend most of their day. Each time you turned a cow out to me it was like they had this expression on their face like they were being naughty. They would step out into the cement barnyard very slowly like they were breaking some big rule. It reminded me of little school boys trying their best to be good and walk in a straight line on their way to recess. They would always look over their shoulder at me as if to see if I was going to try and catch them to bring them back. Very quickly the they went from a slow walk to a very very brisk on. Then partway across the barnyard they hasten their stride and move into a trot, once again giving occasional glances back to see if they were “in the clear”. It was quite the scene with their sagging, dried up utters flapping off their hocks in behind. When it looked like no one was after them and the pasture was only a stride or two away, the cows would then gallop, kicking up their heels every other step while snorting and shake their head like a bull trying to shake a rider at the Calgary Stampede. It just cracked me up. I mean it was freaking hysterical. I never got tired of watching. I just love cows, I know if I hadn’t ended up being so violently allergic to them I never would have made my way back to training dogs.
For many years I wanted to be a large animal veterinarian. I remember how devastated I was when I finally gave up on my dream of working with cattle. For four years I got a needle in each arm, twice a week in the hopes of battling my body telling me that I couldn’t be around cows. It is true when God closes one door he opens a window. Now I am very grateful for the allergy that altered my life’s path, bringing me to a place where I could not imagine ever being more happy.