Cows, cows, cows

Before the baby had come that summer, there had been time for the girl to make many trips to the farm to see her grandparents, aunt and uncles.  The farmhouse was a large, two-story frame structure, with a wrap-around porch, standing on a small rise above a dirt driveway, surrounded by poplar trees.  A stone wall faced the rise along the driveway.  To the child it looked ten feet tall.  In reality it wasn’t three.  Behind the house were several sheds, a large, fenced-in kitchen garden, a dairy barn with a huge hayloft, a corncrib, a silo, and a shed to house the tractor and other pieces of large farm equipment.

All the cousins who came to visit the farm throughout the years loved to play in the hayloft and in the sheds.  Hay stood in orderly stacks in the loft, ready to be tumbled through a hole in the floor to the milking parlor and bull’s pens below.  Mice would squeak and run in terror when they spied a barn cat or an inquisitive child climbing the ladder.  Sunbeams filtered through the cracks between the boards of the old barn into the loft.  Bits of chaff floated lazily in air that was fragrant with the odors of well-cured clover and alfalfa hays.  The hay smelled sweet, but could make bare, sweaty skin itch like crazy.  Still, the loft was a fun place to play, especially on a rainy day.  Riding down slopes of the dry hay was exciting, expecially if one came too close to the big hole in the floor where hay was tossed down for the cows.

The milking parlor was always cleaned before and after the cows were milked.  Before milking, one of the men would wash and sweep the concrete floor, lime it down, and put feed into the bunkers in front of each stanchion.  Then the cows would be allowed into the parlor.  Each cow knew her own stanchion and most times would stand patiently while the metal bars were secured closely about her neck. 

The milking herd was composed of liquid-eyed Jersey cows with sweet dispositions, and big Holsteins.  The milk cows were kept separate from the small Angus beef herd in pastures on opposite sides of the farm. 

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