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Down the Lane – Moooving Memories

Down the Lane - Sweet Memories

Of all the cows kept at my grandfather’s farm, the Jersey cows were my very favorite ones. They seemed like tame, oversized deer to a young, pig-tailed, buck-toothed, short little girl. With their beautiful long-lashed eyes, sweet faces and placid dispositions, they were walking child-magnets. Of all the dairy herd, they were the most docile and easiest to trail to pasture along the lane leading out from the farm. It was fun to follow along, watching their rolling gait, listening to their soft lowing voices, with bells softly bonging as their heads bobbed up and down. Their wobbly legged, big-eyed calves were a delight to behold when they first tried to stand soon after birth, and the cows were always good mothers. Watching from a safe distance, I’d sometimes see one born, but felt pity for the cow as she struggled with the calving. Jersey bulls are big animals, and often made big babies and sometimes my grandfather would have to assist the bigger calves get safely into the world. It was definitely a messy process. The resulting miracle of new-born calfdom made it all worth-while. It was amazing, even to a small child lacking in wisdom, to see the tired bovine mama turn her immediate attention to a wet, steaming calf-pile and lavish her love upon it with soft moos and warming tongue. It was equally amazing to see that little pile turn into a baby cow, determined to get a leg-up on life and reach eagerly for it’s mother’s milk. And, my, those little Jersey cows produced prodigious amounts of rich milk. There was never a question on my grandfather’s farm about raising even one of those little ones for the veal meat market. Pop wouldn’t hear of it, having a soft heart for most of “his” creatures (excluding the pigs, but including the bees – see earlier posts), and hated the manner in which calves were raised for veal. Unfortunately, it was imperative to separate the calves from their mothers after a week or so, in order to have some of the cow’s milk for the local dairy. The calves would be put in a calf-barn, where they would be fed a diet of real milk and a milk substitute from nipple-pierced buckets. That was always a sad time – the cows would stand in the nearby pasture, bawling mournfully, missing their babies. Their sadness would wane after a couple of days, though, and they would go off with the herd again. Pop hated selling any of his cows, and knew each of them by name. Selling off became necessary at times, though, since the farm was small and he was practical in most other ways. I spent many an hour at that New Jersey farm trying to guess what the cows were thinking about while they were standing in fragrant pastures contentedly chewing their cuds. I dreamed of one day owning a farm and having lots of animals to love and call my own. Little did I know then what the future held for me! I’ll disclose more about that later. Along would come rabbits galore, from one pair no less, faithful dogs of all sizes and shapes, some purebred, some rescued from the local SPCA, cats by the dozen, including one who preferred to eat sweaters , goats who’d rather consume the shrubbery than expensive pasture grass, our “parade” horse who almost sat on the face of the Governor’s wife, a pet rooster who thought he was a school student, and a pet hen which rode on the undercarriage of the family car to the local drive-in movie theater one memorable Labor Day’s eve, escaping guinea pigs, hamsters by the dozen, and a pet white rat which terrorized my mother. Then, the time came when a few of the furry and feathered residents of the farm became denizens of a foreign environment as they went to sea along with the family. Stay tuned for further episodes!

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2 thoughts on “Down the Lane – Moooving Memories

  1. Your photos are amazing – and your writing very vidid, too.
    I’ve really enjoyed reading this – and looking forward to one day in the future, when I’ll have the space for more animals. 🙂

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