Donald's Cow Memories - written by Donald
On the farm we had a few cows and some hogs at times. Most every winter Daddy would buy some calves to fatten on the winter rye. Also there were feeder pigs that he would get in the fall to clean up the peanuts that the combine left.
Daddy would get a broker to buy the calves for the winter and most of the time they would buy half Brahma calves whose eyes was about 4 inches apart. A half Brahma would gain good weight on the rye and it was a good yearling to sell to the stock yards in the spring. The calves would be bought about 300lbs and would double there weight during the winter on the rye. But they were wild as Jack Rabbits” and would give you a look like “if you mess with me I will run you over and then jump every fence I see” and they would some times. The “fun” would be in the spring when it would be time to get those half-breed idiots in the cattle pens and onto the trucks to head back to the market.
A week or so before time to pin the cattle in the spring Daddy would buy some sweet feed and get the yearlings used to eating in the cattle lot. He would cut off all water except the cattle trough in the lot. The yearlings would come in to eat and drink but I think that their eyes would get closer together every time they came in.
We would work on the pens getting the top boards nailed tight and some times putting them higher. Every year the pens would get higher and higher, the fence around the cattle lot would get more barb wire and he would replace all the bad boards. But each year some of the cattle would jump or just run through the fence.
Old tractor shed and cow pen
Cow pen and cattle chute (in the middle) with new shop on the right
When the yearling would finally get up the cattle chute with the truck ready to load it would still be more “fun” to get them on the truck. The first one would go on but when the next ones would hear the first yearling’s hooves on the truck deck, that sound would stop all the rest in their tracks.
Daddy and the truck driver would push, yell and some times use a cattle prod to get them moving.
One year when we were loading before daylight (as usual) there was one big steer that was not going to go up the chute no matter how much pushing we did and used the cattle prod till the battery was going dead. The steer was standing all four feet out and head down, then blow hard and jerk his head up “bbbaaaaa” every time the cattle prod was run down his back. We had an extension cord stretched from the tractor shed with a trouble light so we could see (there was no lights in the pens). We had the pick-up’s head lights shining but with all the boards it did not get much light in the pens. Daddy asks one of us to pull the extension cord out of the plug in the tractor shed. Then it was real dark but Daddy went over to the headlights and cut the end off of the electoral cord, then he stretched the two wires about three inches apart and cut the insulation off about an inch back. Then Daddy said “plug it back in”. When Daddy run the bare wire’s with 110V down the yearling
back he made a very loud “BrBrBrBrAAAAAAAAAA” and jumped up the chute and all the way to the front of the truck. Don’t think that the hooves touched down more that once or twice.
One time Daddy was working with the cattle one of the steers kicked him in the forehead. Daddy wore that hove print on his head for several days.
There was one of the brood cows that would always try to get you. She would come across the field or pens just to see you climb or jump the fence. But she every year she had a good calf that bought a very good price so Daddy put up with her but warned us kids about getting to close. Then one year when we were working the cattle she got Daddy in back of a gate and she tried her best to gore him, she would rake her horns up and down the gate, back up a few feet and hit the gate again and again. Soon some one got her attention and Daddy got over the fence. Daddy was black and blue for some time and I think that a few ribs were broken. The next sale she was gone.
Every year Daddy and Uncle Nobel would always split the cost of raising a steer to butcher for the convention. Uncle Noble did not have pasture for cows so the steer would stay on our farm. To us little kids that was the convention cow.
When I was young there was a milk cow (always a Jersey) and sometimes I got to help. Later the milk was cheaper to buy than the cost to keep a milk cow. There was a large stainless-steel bucket for Daddy or one of the older brothers and there were one or two little stainless-steel buckets for us little boys. We would go and get to milk one side while Daddy filled the big bucket on the other side. Daddy showed us how to spin a bucket over his head while not spilling the milk. But the first few times I tried it there was milk on the ground and my head. I learned about gravity and centrificial-force.The milk was put in the frig poured on cereal and drank with no pasteurization and sometimes Mother made butter. But Mother never learned to milk a cow. She said that if she ever started milking Daddy would go to work and leave the milking to her. One of my older brothers would squirt anyone who was near with milk and would squirt milk in the dog’s mouth as they would gather by his side waiting for the treat of warm fresh milk.
When Daddy was young he shared the chore of milking the cows for his Dad. Granddad always make whoever milked the cows feed the farm cats some milk. Daddy would have to keep all the dogs away so the cats could have time to drink. Daddy got tired of that chore also so he put the pan for the cats on a box and put a wire from the spark plug (water pump) in the pan. The cats would jump up on the box and drink that milk but the dog would walk up and lap the milk with his tongue and his paws on the ground (Daddy made sure the ground was wet). Needles to say the dogs did not steal milk from the cats with the pump motor running.