The inspiration for this blog post came to me in the spring of 2015, when Birdsong Princess Diana broke out of the fence and treated herself to a bucket of grain that I'd left out. Ooops!
She was a very sick girl for couple of days. I called my veterinarian out to treat her and spent a sleepless night checking on her. The next day I spoiled her as I tried to tempt her to start eating again, and when she finally did I allowed her to eat whatever her bovine heart desired...other than grain, which was off-limits for a whole week.
I drafted the outline for this post as I relaxed in the pasture and watched Diana graze. I'm not a mother myself, but as the oldest of nine children I'd like to think that I know a thing or two about the parallels between kids and cows!
1) You worry about your cows and can blame all your grey hair on them.
When my cows aren't giving me grey hair by breaking out of fences and dancing down the road, you'll find me trying to figure out if I made any mistakes when I calculated my hay requirements for the year or stressing about the heifer that was due to calve yesterday.
Trust me. When I get grey hair I am going to blame every strand on my cows!
2) Cows can cost you money...lots of money.
You might not need to pinch your pennies (or is that loonies now?) to send your cows to college, but the feed bill that arrives in your mailbox every month isn't small change when you need to feed hay eight or nine months of the year. In addition to hay and grain, you might choose to take part in programs like classifying or milking testing, or in "extracurricular activities" like showing.
3) You never get to sleep in.
Your cows might not jump on your bed at 5 o'clock in the morning, but if you sleep past milking time you can count on them giving you a piece of their mind. I'm positive that every farm has at least one cow that is hiding a watch and is happy to complain if you're not on time for chores.
If you want to feel guilty about the extra 30 minutes of sleep you enjoyed this morning, try walking in the barn and being greeted by all the cows standing at the door and looking at you with disapproving eyes!
4) Cow activities rule your life.
I listen to parents talk about how they can't attend an event because Jacob has a hockey tournament and Sophia has a dance recital.
If you keep cows you will miss out on your friend's party because you need to milk in the evening, or the movie because you need to milk early the next morning. You'll skip the weekend hockey tournament because the cows need to be milked twice a day, or there is a heifer due to calve. When you finally take a break from the day-to-day chores it's because you're taking your cows to the fall fairs and the spring shows, or you are going to the annual general meeting for your breed association or another cow or farm related event.
5) You talk about your cows all the time and love to brag about their accomplishments.
Like a proud parent, you will find yourself talking about your cows and their accomplishments all the time and posting countless photographs of your girls on Facebook. Your non-farm friends will think you're crazy; your cow friends will ask a endless questions and request new photos...and share their cow news with you.
6) You talk to your cows like they are your kids.
I am sooo guilty of this, and often carry on a very one-sided dialogue with my cows. And like true kids, they often ignore me!
When I was a member of Enderby Toastmasters I would practice my speeches on my cows while I was milking. I always joked that if they kicked my bucket and spilled my milk I would know it was a bad speech.
7) You love to watch your cows rest dreamy-eyed while chewing their cud.
I can spend countless hours relaxing beside my favourite cow as she rhythmically chews her cud, and I've found that a cow makes the perfect armchair for reading a book, taking a nap, or visiting with friends.
8) Cows don't understand why they need to eat their veggies and can't have grain as a main course.
Yep, cows are like kids and think that grain (aka cow candy) should be served as the main course. After all, who wants to eat grass or hay when there is grain? It brings back memories of myself and my siblings at supper when we were kids...
9) You carefully check out potential boyfriends.
No, you aren't relaxing on the porch with a shotgun and waiting for the newest boyfriend to arrive. Instead you spend your evenings reading the colourful semen catalogues from Semex and Select Sires that arrive in your mailbox, and despite the fact it's way past your bedtime you can be found checking out bull proofs on the Canadian Dairy Network.
And who knows, if you've got cow-crazy friends like I do you might even discuss the hot new boyfriends you've chosen for your cows.
10) You think all your cows are beautiful, but ooh and ahh over how cute the new baby calf is.
New baby calves are always so soft and cute and cuddly, and when that new baby calf is a Jersey...you can't keep yourself from falling in love with their sweet brown faces and doe-like eyes. For me it's always love at first sight.
11) You love your cows and your life as a farmer, and wouldn't trade it for the world.
My cows are my life, and I can't imagine living without them. I look forward to spending time with them every day and greet them by name and with a cheery "Good Morning!" when they enter the parlour.
I've celebrated small wins and big milestones with my cows, cried on a warm flank after a bad day at work, and danced in the barn to my favourite songs. Thankfully my audience all knows that what happens in the barn stays in the barn. ♥