I’ve come a long way in working with cows on a daily basis to once being afraid of them. Agriculture has shaped me into the person I am today and created many fond memories for me to reminisce about. Cows have a very calming effect on me. I love the way they smell and lay in the grass, perched like chickens. If you have never worked with cows, know this… They are extremely curious and noisy! They want to know what’s going on at all times. They also have immaculate senses of smell.
My dad and me (photo courtesy of Cathy Peterson)
My dad taught me the art of working with cows.
Cows loved to be scratched on their tail heads, and I have watched him scratch many a cow who would then became putty in his hands. When I work with the post fresh cows (these are the cows that just calved) I like to scratch their tail heads so they can feel comfortable around me and as their caretaker it helps to build trust.
As a blast from the past for all of the ladies who have touched my heart, here is a tribute to them.
My first bovine love was cow 203.
She was very tame and dad would always yell, “203 be free!” Why he said this I don’t know, but it rhymed so I went with it.
Next came Fair Calf number 706.
Fair Calf and me
What a real original name, huh?! She was my first show animal and the name stuck ever since. Fair Calf was one of the most gentle, friendly cows in the barn and she was great to work with because she was very low maintenance. She rarely was sick, had a great disposition, gave a decent amount of milk, and effortlessly popped out calves. We raised one of her bulls (a male calf) to keep for breeding when he got older.
And then there was Big Girl… who could forget Big Girl!
She was a 1800 pound freight train running after you in the freestall barn because she wanted to play. She would run behind you and kick up her heels. She was a gentle giant, a big dog if you will. She was the kind of cow who made your heart melt and if you were having a bad day she would shower you with cow kisses. This included a rough, sandpaper tongue with lots of slobber.
Big Girl… the cow dog
Apple Eater’s number was 911.
Ironically it was written on a red tag. Her name was Apple Eater because one day during milking I was eating an apple and she happened to be standing by me and ate the core. The next day I tried oranges. She liked them, too! Bananas and pears were also a favorite. She loved fruit!
We joked about how she would give orange juice instead of milk!
Stalkerfriend (5369) made the move from when our cows were sold to the farm I work at now.
She was also a gentle giant and I called her Stalkerfriend because that’s just what she did… stalked you around the barn until you would pay attention to her. She was very lovable. Stalkerfriend is on the right with Big Girl’s daughter (Big Girl #2) in the middle. The cow on the far left is just photo bombing……
The photo bomber cow, Big Girl #2, and Stalkerfriend getting milked
My Ladies Today!
Aunt Deb and me
Even though I work with about 200 cows, I do claim 2 cows and 2 heifers that I own. They include cow 6720, she doesn’t have a name, and cow 1224, also know known as Aunt Deb. My friend and colleague Amy wanted to call her that in honor of favorite aunt. Aunt Deb was just dried off this morning. We stopped milking her and for the next two months and she will be on vacation in the pasture. These two months are used as a rest period in preparation for her to calve. She looks irritable in this photo because she’s having a bad hair day…
6720 hails from the original Big Girl cow. If Big Girl were alive today she would be 6720’s GRANDMOTHER!
Stopping for a quick pose with 6720
This is one of my favorite parts about working with cows, seeing families grow and tracing back their ancestry. They were my pets and just as things come, they must go. This is the life cycle. Sometimes I think we forget this in life. Everything has a beginning and everything has an end. However, this doesn’t make it any easier. I will talk about this more in a future post.
Thank you reading about my ladies and stay tuned for more cow tales!