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A Smart Cow Story II
Growing up on a dairy farm in Indiana was for me an udder delight....Okay, I got that out of the way early.
Actually, it is only in hindsight that I consider growing up on a dairy farm all that great. At the time it was a lot of work that I really didn’t want to do. So quite often I didn’t do it. My older brother was much more inclined toward work, so I let him have all he wanted.
Holstein cows dominated our lives. Twice a day, whether we felt like it or not, they needed to be milked. Here’s a little story just to let you know what a cow goes through if she misses being milked for a couple of days.
Occasionally cows get out of the area where they are supposed to be. Our cows had all the space in the world. They could stay in the barns, go out into the pasture or stand in the creek to cool off. But there was something mesmerizing, even alluring about what was on the other side of the gate that kept them within their enormous boundaries. When they did decide to make a break for it, they usually chose to do so in the middle of the night.
When the cows got out, someone in the family usually heard the sound of bumbling bovines outside and got up to check it out. Then they would yell all around the house that the cows were out. Everyone had to get up. No one was exempt. We would run out into the woods if they had wandered into that deep darkness. Or they may have taken off down our quarter mile long driveway. Sometimes they would get into a cornfield. If the corn was over their heads, we would have to go into the corn and stay until we found them all. With my sister, brothers and I wandering around out there in the dark, it was like the real life “Children of the Corn.” After chasing cows up and down corn rows all night, we probably did look slightly demon possessed when it was all over.
Where was I? Oh yes, I’m supposed to be telling you about what happens to a cow when she isn’t milked twice a day. Well, one night all the cows got out, just like I’ve already explained. We got them all back, or so we thought. At that point we probably had about eighty milk cows plus all the young heifers and calves. We didn’t miss the renegade cow until the next morning when she didn’t show up to be milked. We searched all over, but still hadn’t found her by milking time that evening. So she had missed two milkings.
We were all sleeping soundly that night. It was the night after the cow had escaped. I would have enjoyed watching her as she realized the price she would pay for her rebelliousness. I imagine she began turning slow circles trying to figure out where she was. When she finally decided which way the farm was, she would have been getting physically very uncomfortable.
When a cow misses one milking, the milk still continues to be manufactured in her body. That milk still goes to her udder. After missing two milkings, things would be getting seriously full and the cow would be desperate for relief. Milk would be dripping from her teats as she made her way home. Maybe this is a good time to ask if you’ve ever had to go to the bathroom really badly, you know, number one. Have you ever been desperate to go but couldn’t get to a restroom? Well, if things got really bad, you could take care of business wherever and whenever. But not so the cow. They can’t get rid of their milk like that. They need the farmer to do it for them. And this poor cow...I really did not feel sorry for her at all...this poor cow slowly made her way back to the farm.
She was a holstein cow. In my humble opinion, holsteins are normally only slightly more intelligent than the fence posts that are supposed to help keep them in the pasture. This cow walked back to the farm. She didn’t go to the barn or bed down outside the fence where her friends and family were eating and sleeping on the other side. No, this cow went straight to the house. That night it was not one of our family members that woke everyone else up because the cows were out. The cow that was out woke everyone up. She had stopped walking precisely outside my parent’s bedroom window. It was summer, so the window was wide open which served the cow’s purpose very well. She let out the loudest, most forlorn, tormented, desperate moooooo that the world has ever heard. I think everyone in the house wet their bed that night.
My father was out the door in a flash. Literally, he was flashing. He hadn’t bothered to put his pants on. But he did have them in his hand as he headed for the barn with the cow following close behind. She went straight to the stall where she knew she would finally find relief.
And that is the story of the second most intelligent cow I’ve ever known.