Herald-Journal Herald and Journal, April 13, 1998

My favorite cow?

By SUE FINK

My least favorite cow is back in the barn! Good old Number 28 may occupy a stall in the barn, but she will never have a place in my heart.

I had almost forgotten about her these last two months. She has been out in the cow yard with the other dry cows. Now she has had her calf and joined the herd again.

This cow has always been a challenge for me. My husband, Tom, gets along with her just fine. She has a definite dislike for me.

She will be standing ever so quietly in her stall as I approach her with the milking machine. She turns her head to watch me.

I know what she is thinking. "Should I kick her now, or wait a little longer and really lull her into a false sense of security?"

I always have the feeling as I crouch down to put the machine on her that I am about to get a foot in the face. Just when you least expect it that foot will go out. Wham!

So far the damage has been minor. I have gotten a few scrapes and bruises on my arms, hands, and knees from her. To this point she hasn't done anything that required major medical coverage.

She does have a habit of swinging her head back toward you as if to warn you away. Once she really surprised me with a totally new tactic. As I was reaching down to put teat dip on her, she butted me in the head. She nearly broke my neck! I found out the hard way that you have to watch her head as well as her feet.

I hope you don't get the idea that I dislike cows. I just happen to like the well-behaved ones a lot better.

I remember a huge cow that was part of our herd when we first started dairy farming. She was what I refer to as a "quiet cow". Number 34 was the most laid- back cow I have ever seen. Nothing seemed to provoke her. She always stood quietly in her stall to be milked. That was why she was my particular favorite. That and the fact that she was a tall brown cow, and different from our Holsteins.

But just being a nice cow can't save you if you are not a productive member of the dairy herd. We weren't going to be able to get another calf from her. Now her milk production had dropped way down. It was time to call the trucker.

The sad day arrived. Our trucker, Hank, backed up to the barn as usual. He and Tom chatted as they got the chute set up for loading the cow into Hank's truck.

"Yes," Hank said, " This chute is brand new. I just had it made and put on." I confided to Hank that this was my favorite cow and I hated to see her go.

Hank and Tom got Number 34 backed out of her stall and headed for the door. I watched the milkers on the other cows.

Out the door my big brown cow went. I couldn't bear to watch.

Suddenly there was a commotion outside. The sound of splintering wood and loud voices could be heard coming from the direction of Hank's truck.

Suddenly Hank appeared in the doorway again. "Well, that's not my favorite cow, Sue. She busted right through my new chute and ran off. Tom is out there trying to get her turned around toward the barn."

I was quite surprised. I guess my cow decided she didn't want to take that final ride.

Eventually my "quiet cow" was corralled and loaded into the truck.

I don't remember if I felt more sorry for Number 34, or for Hank and his busted chute.

I know the feeling will be entirely different when Number 28 bids farewell to the Fink Family Farm.

I wonder if I can still jump up and click my heels?


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