Thursday, April 25, 2013

Don't Have a Cow Woman

Claire and her hay say "Buh-Bye"

There are some things I will miss about no longer having cows.  And there are some things I will never miss.

I will miss sharing my garden extras with my eager bovine family: corn, corn stalks, apple pomice, onions, kale and also kitchen orange peels!  I will miss the hilarity and pure joy of large dancing cows in spring.  I will miss the tender baby calves slipping out into the world. I will miss pure, raw milk.  I will miss the odd sense of identity I found in being the only person I knew with a family milk cow.  I will miss the large brown eyes, rolling in circles to see it all. I will miss naming my cows: Hendrika, Sukey, Ginger, Beignet, Chocolatey Claire, and Yoda.

Hendrika and Sukey
I will not miss having to make hard choices every year about who to keep, who to sell, who to kill.  I will not miss trying to amass a chunk of change for a years worth of Timothy-grass-free hay (Timothy Grass puts Huck in to anaphylaxis... so you see, it's kind of inconvenient) and trying to time it right: after it's been harvest, before everyone else buys it.  I will not miss tripping over baling twine in the barn.  I will not miss cows in winter and sick cows, or the constant fear that I'll need to call a large animal vet out here (because I don't have the truck or trailer to deliver a sick cow to the vet) and since they live so far away and charge by the mile, by the time they'd get out here, before any treatment, our budget would be busted. 

I will not miss killing birds with my electric fence.  Example: I pulled my Spokesman Review from it's yellow road-side house and turned back to my house one recent morning.  And that's how I saw the Harrier's hawk, diving through my field, close on the heels of a group of house finches.  The finches easily flew through the hogwire fence, but the hawk could not.  So it slipped up, and landed on my electric wire.  Being too large for such acrobatics, it wobbled, connected with the hogwire, flailed out it's wings and plunged forward where it hung upside-down, sizzled feet still clinging to the wire.  I screamed and ran in my slippers to unplug the fence.  Even without electricity, the hawks hung there, wings unfurled and upside-down.  Devastated, I collapsed on my pile of useful pallets and mourned.  My farm, basically me, killed a beautiful bird.  All for the cow. How many birds would this cow cost? Would I bury it?  Would I call animal control to remove the carcass for me?  Would I have to saw off it's scorched claws to get the body?  I certainly couldn't leave it there, a coyote-popcicle.  I would feel like shit for a couple days.  Actually I would feel like shit for the rest of my life about this, whenever I remembered it.  I stood from my fetal-like-crying-pose to see if it had fallen off the fence and at least I wouldn't have to operate on a dead hawk.  But it was gone.  I walked the whole fence line.  The bird was gone.  Maybe just to nurse it's singes and die in privacy, away from the prying eyes of taunting finches and the devil's own farmer girl.  Or maybe to live a long, and smarter life away from human endeavors. For that one bird, I won't have to feel like shit for the rest of my life.  For all the others, yes, I will.

I will not miss the constant, and I mean constant, NEED to maintain my fence. At one time, I enjoyed it, but like all such chores, it was getting old. About a month ago, I dreamed that Chocolatey Claire had gotten out again.  I awoke a bit panicked, but realized I'd just checked the fence a few days before.  It must have been her heat-stoked moo-ing all night, implanting her in my dreams.  But you know what comes next, don't you.  You've read this blog a time or two.  And you know that after I returned home from dropping the kids off at school, I looked out into our field and there I saw Claire, well contained.  I went inside, got myself a glass of water and then noticed the neighbors car driving up.  I met him on the porch, "Can I help you?"
"I think that's your cow down the road."
"Oh, that can't be, she just out there in the...."  No, that CAN beWith cows there is no "can't".
"Is there anything I can do to help?"  He asked.
"At this point, No.  I don't even know what to do.  She's in heat.  Jim's got a bull."
I grabbed my grain and headed out without a plan. That girl was running down the road.  She was already 1/3 mile away. Some of my outstanding neighbors stopped to help.  One just happened to have a couple riding crops in her car to help herd.  But I could see that Claire wasn't going home. We gave it "ye ol' college try and fail" until I decided to go with the flow and opened up Jim's fence.  Claire ran through, and ran and ran and ran across his field.  And within 4 minutes, we'd gotten a call that the girl had done got herself a boyfriend and they done consummated.  The kids and I went to apologize to Jim for the unexpected visit from the eloping horny heifer. And while we were there for ten minutes, discussing what had happened and what to do about it, Claire and his bull mated about 20 times.  And the other cows were all excited about the new arrival.  And so they got in on it too.  And it was a veritable cow orgy.  We are normally rather sanguine about farm animal copulations, but even I was wide-eyed.

I took a picture of the orgy.  Maybe that wasn't right.
Jim, yet another of my wonderful neighbors, got around to returning her to me after about a 3 week honeymoon.  She didn't go in to heat again, so there was some point in returning her to Lucky Farm.  And during those three weeks, I realized I didn't need a cow any more.  I didn't worry that the phone was ringing because my cow was a mile away, or the car in my driveway was there to report an escaped bovine.

It's going to be alright
Claire is a unique cow, a miniature, just perfect for our acreage.  She eats next to nothing.  She's the cow I originally had in mind.  Instead I bought what I could get my hands on, and bred her into existence from that.  And now that I finally have the cow of my dreams, I'm done. I could keep her as a pet.  But I'm looking at my life today, TBI and all, and she doesn't fit here anymore.  Honestly, I'd tried to sell her last fall when I realized my cow joy was over, but no one sane buys cows in the fall.  And now, I'm really in no shape for this kind of work.  Huck's not in to cow-husbandry it turns out and I respect that. I'm certainly not going to demand that he spend his 3 seconds off a week doing my hobby for me. So, there goes my perfect cow.  Let's feel sad for a moment:

(Sad moment)

But I am certain that when the time comes, if I feel like it again, the cow or pony or goat or pig or camel of my dreams will be there, waiting for me on Craigslist, when I'm ready.
That is the End, my friend

As for Claire, she's on to new adventures with a farming family of six, ready to love and treat her right.  I hope you enjoyed some parts of the link-retrospective of moi and my moo cows.  Now what am I going to write about?  Those chickens better get a lot more interesting!


  1. Sarajoy, we need to comiserate more often. I ended up having dairy last night so I spent all day in a heavy depressive brain fog and was real snappy at the kids. It was a wasted day. But I did get to see Sarah Cavanaugh for a bit. She is battling something now too. We shared how humbling it is to realize and then have to bring your family and friends to an understanding that you are no longer reliable. Sometimes you'll be able to be there and get things done, and others you won't. That is something no damn cow is ever going to understand. <3

  2. That's exactly right, Kerry. You can't expect a cow to tone down her personality just because I asked. Wish I'd been able to hang out with you and Sarah!! Hope you're feeling better today, with clarity and peace.



Related Posts with Thumbnails