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Dairy Month memories

06/17/2013 @ 9:37am

June is Dairy Month, thirty days set aside to honor our nation’s dairy farmers. Dairy farmers are a select group of people, folks who live their lives by the laws of lactation. They are intimately acquainted with the fact that cows don’t give milk; it’s taken from them by force.

Having grown up on a dairy farm and having been a dairy farmer for much of my life, I can appreciate the effort involved in getting dairy products to the consumer. It may come as a shock for some to learn that dairy products don’t simply appear in the supermarket’s dairy case as if some magician were constantly conjuring magnums of milk and boxes of butter.

Perhaps one of the most exciting tasks on the dairy was milking a fresh heifer for the first time. In this case, “exciting” can mean “hazardous and sometimes painful.”

But imagine things from the heifer’s perspective. She had led a pleasant life that consisted of hanging out with her pals and noshing at the all-you-can-eat alfalfa buffet and gossiping about how Bessie thinks her yellow ear tags are SOOO cool.

And had she checked out that cute new bull who recently appeared on the scene? Isn’t he simply gorgeous? He’s a Holstein Justin Bieber!

The heifer pretended that she hadn’t noticed him, but that wasn’t quite so. Truth is, she had had a secret rendezvous with the young bull the night he arrived. The moon was soaring high in the autumn sky and he had gazed at her soulfully, his big brown eyes conveying the depths of his passion. How could she say no?

She had noted some changes since then, changes that told her she was with calf. The rest of her herd had also noticed, but were too polite to say anything. Besides, they had each succumbed to the bull’s charms.

Then it happened. One June evening, she retired to a secluded corner of the heifer lot and became a mother.

She doted on her new baby. But then the humans, those benign beings who brought grain and the occasional salt block, began to act strangely. Several humans entered the lot and one of them kidnapped her baby!  

The human scurried out a gate, carrying her damp calf in his arms. The heifer trotted behind the human, following him and her calf through an open door and into a barn.

Inside the barn, the heifer saw that some of her more matronly herd mates were standing side by side in rows. Her calf had been placed in front of one of these rows where the older cows sniffed it with great curiosity. The heifer saw an opening between two cows and shoved her way in.

A wooden stanchion snapped shut and she was suddenly trapped! She fought for a few moments, but was soon calmed by the presence of her calf.

The teenaged kidnapper slipped into the small space between her and the adjoining cow. He made sounds that were intended to soothe but she quivered like a captured bird.

He gently touched her flank and she instantly responded with a powerful kick. It missed. The human continued to quietly and persistently caress her until her fierce temper had subsided somewhat.

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