Our theme this round is to tell something about ourselves people may not know. And I suggested we reach back to our childhoods to do that. Here's me and my older brother:
1. There are cows.
2. Those cows need to be milked twice a day. Always. 365 days a year. No days off.
3. Those cows also need to be fed and watered and cleaned up after, because what goes into a cow always comes out, in a much bigger and smellier quantity than it went in. And, trust me, they don't clean up after themselves.
4. Did I mention the cows?
When I was in third grade, my job was to feed the calves. Sounds simple, yes? Hold on. We kept our calves in hutches, small wooden calf-size sheds, up on a hill. I had to carry grain and water up that hill, two buckets at a time. Ever thought about how much a calf can drink? Trust me, on a hot day in summer, a lot. I have no idea how many hundreds of trips I made up that hill and back down by the time I turned ten.
Speaking of age ten, here's me at the Jackson County Fair with my calf Popcorn:
(No, I didn't win a blue ribbon. Or even a red. I got a white ribbon, one of those "Thanks for coming, I'm sure you'll find something else you're good at...")
As I got older, I did more chores. I fed the cows, which meant I progressed from buckets full of grain to wheelbarrows full of silage. ( chopped-up hay from the silo) Those puppies are heavy, trust me. And one filled while you pushed with the other one, so if you dawdled at all, it would overflow and then you'd have to shovel. Which I did a lot. Not just silage. I remember coming home for Thanksgiving my sophomore year of college. The barn cleaner, the thing that cleans all the gutters out, had broken. And I stood there for hours, knee deep in cow manure, shoveling.
Milking cows was another chore I did for years. But I digress. This is not all about the work. I meant for this to be about the cows, and that, even though they were tons of work, I loved them. And I named them. Most were named for characters out of books I had read. And I was constantly out in the barn playing with them, so by the time they had grown up to be milking cows in the barn, they were so friendly and gentle.
My parents no longer have cows. Now, if I want to pet a cow, I have to call upon rancher friends out here where we live. And in the spring when the fields are full of calves, I stop by the road and get out and walk over to the fence, hoping one will stray my way so I can pet them....