Don’t you guys serve ice cream here?
That’s what we get for locating in a building that once housed one ofthe most famous dairys in central Iowa (Boyd’s Dairy for those of you who didn’t know).
At the time that I was growing up on a northern Minnesota dairy farm, I was involved in what economists call a vertical monopoly, which simply means that production and consumption took place at the same location. It’s sad that when you ask many children where milk comes from, they will answer, “from the store.”
Most urban dwellers have an idealized view of the dairy industry.
Visions of miles of stainless steel pipes, huge gleaming milk tanks and gentle black cows probably come to mind.
Anybody out there who has anything to do with a Holstein cows know, “That just ain’t so.”
Sure, the majority of cows are gentle and well mannered but there is a cunning killer in every herd. That one cow should have its hooves licensed as deadly weapons. However, the hooves are only one weapon at a cow’s disposal.
Horns are especially devious. When your back is turned you can be sure that you will get accidently bumped in the spine by a horn, even it is just a stub, it hurts like crazy A knock under the chin can make your dentist rich.
Ever notice how much mucus a cow has in its nose? Ever notice how far that stuff flies when a cow sneezes? Do you know what happens if you get in the way? This situation is especially maddening when you wear glasses.
It’s big trouble when two trouble- making Holsteins happen to stand together. The unsuspecting person doing the milking steps in between the diabolical pair. He or she crouches down to put on the milker and smooth as butter the two cows step sideways until all eight of their stomachs are touching. The human is trapped, crouched underneath 3 tons of cow.
Even so, it’s hard to get angry with a cow. The minute you are about to blow your top they look at you with those huge brown eyes that say: “who me?”
It has taken 1,500 years of genetic research to develop those eyes.
Most of the pranks previously mentioned are relatively harmless. Frustrating yes, but not seriously harmful. Only the cows possessed by evil spirits do things like kick you in the knees, step on your foot, or knock you in the funny bone with a horn.
The most diabolical of all cow pranks is the muddy-tail-in-the-face trick. They usually spring this on you when you lest expect it (like when your mouth is open.) Sometimes a particularly nasty cow will replace mud with unspeakable substance.
When the mud drys into stone-like chunks, this trick is particularly dangerous. It becomes similar to a blackjack or David-and-Goliath-type stunt.
Stunts like this sure make milking cows a challenge.
Now across the country, barns stand empty and the challenge of milking is swiftly disappearing. Even in the remaining barns, the job is losing some of it’s thrill.
My dad just installed a pipeline milker in his barn. No more lifting heavy buckets from between belligerent bossies. No more lift and dump maneuvers after milking every cow.
Milking cows is turning into a soft job. The milk surges out of the cow, through miles of gleaming stainless steel pipes and into a giant milk tank. Swish, whoosh, spash and it’s done.
The darn thing even has an automatic washer.
I think Dad put off installing it because he felt I was the only son that could handle milking cows the rough way. Maybe he thought it would build my character.
Thanks a lot, Dad.