Dairy Month memories
A vast assortment of
slogans pass for wisdom on bumper stickers, but I like a bumper sign I saw many
moons ago that declared: “Cows don’t give milk. It’s taken from them by force!”
That sentiment could be interpreted a couple of different ways. Being a dairy farm kid, my first thought was, “Right on! Dairy farming is a tough job and it’s about time we got some recognition!”
I was so moved, I considered dashing off a strongly worded missive to my congresspersons stating that dairy farmers deserved to be honored. But then someone informed me that this is why we have June Dairy Month.
When I was a kid, the arrival of June meant many good things. It meant no more school, no more morning bus to catch, the suspension of scheduled bathing, and generally reverting to an untamed state. But above all, June meant the beginning of the grazing season.
We had a pasture but also took advantage of the free fodder growing in the road ditches.
Grazing the road ditches was actually possible back then owing to the fact that fences still existed. At that time, the idea of farmland being so valuable that every possible square inch had to be tilled was beyond imagination.
Herding our Holsteins in the ditches took a bit of planning, along with a crack cow handling team. Said team often consisted of my sister Di and me.
To the layman, our job may have seemed simple, consisting mainly of heading out ahead of the herd as they munched their way southward from our farmstead. When the cows reached end of our gravel road, it was up to us to turn the bossies around and encourage them to head back toward home.