Post by bestyet on Jun 26, 2017 18:45:27 GMT -5
September 28, 2005
I like cows. I have liked them since my girlhood in small-town Wisconsin, where we neighborhood children could greet them in their pastures at the edge of town, and where I would see the herds on the green hills as we bicycled in the countryside. Their big, liquid eyes, fuzzy ears, and large leathery muzzles are so endearing.
I became deeply involved with cows when, seeking practical experience for my degree in agricultural engineering, I came to work for an eccentric cowman in Illinois, who later became my husband. Now, with my husband’s recent passing, cows have become my life. I’m no longer just a helpmeet in the cow business, but am blessed to carry on where he left off, with the able help of my children, who each like cows in their own ways.
How can I describe the profound feeling of well-being evoked by cows in the lush pasture: munching grass, chewing their cuds, eyes half shut, deeply sighing in contentment over their full bellies. Those with young calves have an underlying awareness and concern for their little ones at all times, even if they are not nearby. I have learned enough about the processes of ruminant digestion and milk production to be fascinated by the chemistry and microbiology that’s going on in cows.
I now understand my husband’s lifelong habit of checking the cows frequently beginning early each morning. We observe each animal carefully for anything out of the ordinary. We study them, getting to know them from every angle. We analyze their conformation and judge their strengths and weaknesses so we can make wise matings at breeding time.
Like all dairy farmers, I find great satisfaction in seeing the milk flow at milking time. The challenge of getting that pure white milk safely from the big and sometimes unruly cows adds to the feeling of accomplishment. When the chores are done there is a sweet feeling of relief, a load unburdened. The cows head purposefully back out to pasture, and I head to the house to fix supper for the family.
Our children enjoy many privileges growing up with cows. The sense of power thrills a young child who can help coax the big beasts to go where we direct them. The children like to identify the cows as they get to know each one by markings and mannerisms. One cow lets the children climb on her—she stands perfectly still while they sit on her and pet her.
Our children have learned about life and reproduction from cows. They have seen calves born, they have witnessed the first wobbly steps to find mother’s milk. They have bottle fed calves and seen them grow into cows. The children help decide to which sire to mate each cow, and they await the outcome with the interest of any breeder. If it is a heifer calf it is seen as a productive future member of a herd. If it is a bull calf it is seen as a future herd sire for us or another dairyman, or a source of wholesome meat for the market.
I can hardly imagine life without being tied down to cows, tied to the land on which the cows live. We are humbled and honored to participate in Creation in this way.