My very first and favorite childhood memory is when I was about 3 years old. I loved being in the milk barn with my dad. I believe, and still do, that it is our cow’s favorite place to be too. I can still feel the aura of contentment in that barn.
My dad would sit me on the grain wagon that was in the middle of the parlor. I would sit and chat with those beautiful “ladies” with big eyes. They would slowly chew their grain that was put before them. I would play “beauty parlor” with them and comb there bangs. Even at that age, I knew which ones liked it and which ones didn’t. My very favorite was “Vanisha”, she loved having her bangs combed more than all the rest and to this 3 year old she was, of course, the most beautiful cow of them all!
Being the oldest child of a man who married and started having children at 36 years of age. I very well knew that he wanted a son first but he never made me feel that way and bought me my “barn boots” as soon as I could fit into the smallest size made. He called me “Bobbi” and got me out there as soon as he could.
My dad in this day of age might be diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder “OCD”! He was meticulous in keeping everything spotless. On a dairy, that in itself is a full time job! I was probably 4 years old and remember cleaning out the milk tank with him. I remember holding the brush and slip sliding all over the place. The smell of the solution is still one of my favorite scents. He introduced me to steel wool and pipe cleaning early on. At such a young age you don’t realize its work, it’s just being with your dad. I cherished those times. My father worked so many long hours he made quality time with me when he could. His wet hugs in his heavy yellow wash apron were the best!
My dad hated the fact that I was a “thumb sucker” …yes; this dairy goddess sucked her thumb until the age of 5. My dad’s very favorite thing was to get a hold of that thumb and stick it in a fresh “cow patty”! One thing about dairy farmers, most of us are not “germ phoebes” I just took that poopy little thumb and gave it a good rinse with water and put it right back in my mouth. I remember displaying that with great drama for my father to watch with his big toothy grin. Young dairy goddesses can be a bit stubborn! I was going to prove that giving up my thumb was to be on my terms! There wasn’t any amount of cow poop was going to change my mind!
I remember usually being barefoot and getting so dirty that my Mom would hose me off outside before she let me come in the house. Another favorite past time was to play “Big Foot”! We would look around for fresh cow patties and spread our toes out as far as we could and step in them. Then we would go and search out “Big Foot”. Growing up on a dairy gave us such great imagination. We didn’t have much TV or computer distractions. We had to create our entertainment.
It’s funny, but being raised on a dairy and being exposed to so much of the environment I never remember getting sick. Oh we had our share of colds but I never remember missing school or not being able to play.
I was given chores! I would wake early and wash down the barn. That job was way more pleasurable in the summer than the winter, but nonetheless, school or not, it had to be done. I also fed the calves. I loved their scratchy tongues and the way the would suck on my finger after their bottle. That work ethic instilled then remains with me to this day.
Even now, when I see a calf born in front of my eyes, I am still moved at the miracle of it. I am touched at how instinctively a cow will tend to her calf… I have the same emotion today as I did as a young child in appreciating life and love. Many do not get to enjoy that until they are much older.
I still have so much to share with you all, but know that all of us hard working gods and goddesses have so much to do in our days. I will break down my memoir so that hopefully you might be able to fit it in your schedule. My wish in sharing my life is that when you bring home that gallon of milk or quart of ice cream you might be able to put a “face” on the hard working family that produces that for you with great pride.
Until next time………