Tuesday, April 3, 2007

cow memories

I was pregnant with my daughter when we bought our first milk cow, Suzie, from my parents.  She was dry at the time, being very pregnant.  So we didn't have to milk her for a few weeks after bringing her home.  I told Cliff when we got her that he'd have to do the milking, because I had tried many times at Grandma's house as a girl, and I just couldn't get the hang of it.

So guess who ended up milking?  Practice makes perfect, and after a week or two of sore hands and spending forty-five minutes with my head in a very patient cow's flank, I got it right.  And loved it to the point you could almost say I was addicted.  So from 1969 until somewhere in the early '90s, I milked cows twice a day, every day.  Sometimes as many as four cows, sometimes one or two.  We didn't go anywhere overnight, because the cows had to be milked.

Back to Suzie:  She was some sort of Guernsey-cross my parents had bought as a calf, and among all the cows I've owned, she was the biggest character.  For instance, we used her like a horse.

That's Cliff's sister, Charlene, riding Suzie.

If we wanted to lead her somewhere, no halter was needed.  We'd just loop a rope around those horns and she'd follow right along.

Cliff built a metal pole barn on the twenty acres that was our home then, and put a sliding door on it.  This gave me a place to milk, and we had room to store hay for our animals for the winter.  Suzie figured out quickly how to hook one of those horns on the edge of the barn door and open it wide enough to squeeze through.  I'd go out and find her in the barn, happily tearing up hay bales and munching alfalfa in the middle of summer, when pasture was knee-deep.   Cliff finally put  a chain on the door that we could hook on a nail, to prevent her breaking and entering.

Those horns could be dangerous.  Oh, Suzie wouldn't hurt anyone on purpose.  But one time when I was standing beside her with my arm around her neck, she swung her head at flies, a horn connected, and I ended up with a black eye.

We had a view of the barn and dry lot from both a kitchen and a bedroom window.  If I tried to sleep in on a weekend morning, Suzie would get as close to the house as she could (probably no more than seventy-five feet away) and bellow, glaring at the house.  If I tarried too long before going out to do the evening milking, I'd be standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and she'd look me right in the eye through the window and moo pathetically.  She liked to be milked on a regular schedule, thank you very much.

When we first bought that place, the fences were in deplorable condition, and Suzie soon became an escape artist.  She'd find the easiest way out and make her way to the alfalfa patch.  Or a neighbor's cornfield, but that's another story.  Cliff spent one weekend building a new stretch of fence, a few feet down the hill from the old fence, between the pasture and our alfalfa.  When he was done, he tore down the old fence.  Before long, Suzie came over the hill and noticed the fence was gone:  she didn't see the new stretch of fence further down, so she thought we had set her free in the world.  If you've never seen a grown cow cavort, bucking and running and shaking her head, you've missed one of the funniest sights ever.  That's what Suzie did, hopping, skipping and bucking... until she came to the new fence and realized she wasn't free after all.  She put on her brakes and looked up and down the new wall of her prison as if to say, "What the heck?"

Suzie is the reason for my love for dairy cows.  Suzie is the reason I now have a little Jersey heifer with frozen-off ears named Secret. 


marainey1 said...

That cow was truly a character.  I think animals have far better brains that they are given credit for.  What wonderful memories of your milking days.  I tried it a few times at my grandparents, but never really made any headway.  My grandfather used to love to squirt us when we watched him.  The milk and the cream and the butter and the cottage cheese that were home made were the best part. I did get to help skim the cream from the rest that was placed in a huge crock and I also help churn the butter.  I can remember having oatmeal with some fresh cream on it that was delicious. Thanks for the memories today.  Lots of good stuff coming your way again.  'On Ya' - ma

madcobug said...

Susie was a very smart and unusual lady. Gernsey milk is very good, not quite as rich as the Jersey. I had one of each at one time. Secret is really growing and looking beautiful, ears and all. Helen

mutualaide said...

Who says cows don't have personality?  Although I'd hazard a guess that it's brought out by the owner of the pet!  Loved reading this post.

suzypwr said...

Isn't it nice to have such lovely memories of Suzie? I hope Secret has a personality as cool as Suzie's!

fowfies said...

Now that is a cool pic of a very cool cow.  That is one laid back cow. Thats the best pic of your baby I have seen so far, very nice against the green grass!

astaryth said...

I've had quite a few 'non-pet' animals that have had wonderful personalities. The tortoise in my front yard right now is a good example <LOL>

jawojnar said...

What a great memory, thanks for sharing.

nerves05 said...

They look very much alike.
Secret is to cute.
Take care  :-)

plieck30 said...

Neat entry. My Daddy always liked to have a cow to milk or chickens to feed so he had an excuse to go home early from anywhere that we might be. lol Paula

amy122389 said...

Secret just has the sweetest face...  :)


willow8164 said...

I love cows! Thanks for sharing your memories.  Love the pics.

lanurseprn said...

What a great entry! I love reading stories of your past.  Suzie was BIG!  I wonder if Secret will be that big?

bnanajm said...

She looks like she has grown.  A pretty little girl...........for a cow.  :o)

ksquester said...

What a great story and your picture of Secret..........she's beautiful!   Anne

tendernoggle said...


hestiahomeschool said...

I love dairy cows, too, my grandparents were dairy farmers and I have such happy memories of them. They are so sweet and their breath smells so good and I love their eyelashes.

love, Kas

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