I lost a good job with MapCo about 1985. I could have took to the road and hired out fitting pipe or some other form of construction work, but my family was in their formative years and I wanted to stay close to them as possible, so I took a job for a short time working cattle.
No, not the fat shorthorned beef cattle, or the lanky, terrain-toughened longhorn variety. But the placid milk cow. Well let me tell you they ain’t necessarily placid. These seemingly contented bovines are some of the most self-centered, greediest, cowardly, excitable slave drivers that God ever stuck a gut into. Most people that are owned by cows will agree with me.
Heaven knows that she should be contented because from the day she is calved until the day she becomes a McDonald’s burger, she is pampered. She is taken from her mother and hand fed a diet fit for a queen. As she grows into young cowhood she has no responsibility whatsoever.
And when that day comes for her to seek a mate, does she have to fight her way through hordes of other clinging females? She does not. She simply rolls her big brown eyes a few times, makes a few girlish capers around the cowpen and the owner runs to a telephone to arrange a quick marriage with the artificial inseminator.
She then spends her entire pregnancy living a life of leisure. She feels no pain. Loses no breakfasts. Makes no plans for a new bassinette. She just enjoys herself, and when her time comes she will have the assistance of a vet if the need arises.
Meanwhile, the dairyman has been enjoying no leisure at all. He has been feeding this bottomless pit endless bales of hay. Tons of silage garnished with the proper amounts of vitamins and sweetened with molasses. Making sure she has plenty of fresh water to drink, and on top of this, playing chambermaid to her every biological need.
While the man hustles endlessly for the cows comfort, she and her buddy, the milk inspector, neither of who has a dime invested in this operation, stand there with a smirk on their face.
The cow is completely greedy. She’ll go to any lengths to fill her multi-stomachs. You would think with all the stomachs she has to keep her going, she’d be happy. She will load up all of her stomachs to the point of bursting just in case there might not be another chance.
She will bawl to get out of the barn if she thinks there may be something edible out there. Then she will bawl to get back in the barn just in case she may have missed something in there.
This buxom thousand-pounder is the world’s biggest coward. A tiny heel fly will put her to flight. She may stampede just as you are about to pen her and her companions at the sound of a sneeze. And she will invariably put all her weight on your foot she accidentally stepped on. If you change clothes from your daily routine, it will throw her into a tizzy. A man who talks about the cows he owns is a dreamer. A realist knows that he is owned by the herd. Family activities are planned around the herd. When the man does get away for a breather, the herd decides how far he should go, when he is due back and is always a constant worry.
The cow is a master of feminine trickery, for instance when she becomes sick, she lowers her silky lashes, rolls her limpid eyes and gets a hump in her back that sends everyone in the house into a panic. What does she have? Hoof and mouth, the plague, cancer. No, probably just a good old-fashioned bellyache from overeating more than her share of fodder.
A cow generous, ha! She doesn’t give milk, it’s taken from her at great expense and a lot of labor. Can you imagine the labor it takes to hook up 100 milkers. Then you have to clean all the equipment and make sure it’s sterilized before doing it all over again that night. Placid? Never—again just plain lazy. All the textbooks tell you how much water a cow will drink. Sure she will, if it’s pumped for her. But let one of those bad blue northerners blow in, and if the stock tank is a fair walk away, then see how much she will drink.
She is a firm believer in the old-fashioned caste system–watch any herd of cattle and you’ll see one boss cow. A new addition to the herd is quickly put in her place. The cow is a born tyrant.
I’ve also heard that cows don’t really sleep. This doesn’t surprise me too much because she’s much too busy casing the joint for a weak spot in the fence so she can make her escape.
The milk cow is far from stupid though, she can even tell time. Case in point: when you are in a hurry, a cow will never accommodate you by coming to the milking barn on time just because there’s feed in there. She’ll dawdle at the far end of the field until you go and issue an engraved invitation in the form of a stick or a well placed rock.
Never make the mistake in thinking that all cows are the same. We’ve got glamour girls, introverts, extroverts, worry warts and motherly types. We’ve had airheads, screwballs, business women and career girls. But that would take another story.
In fact, instead of trying to tell you all I know about dairy cows, I think I’ll exact a small bit of revenge this morning. I’m going to McDonald’s for a Char-burger and a glass of milk.