For the love of a cow

Sometimes I feel that people who don’t grow up on dairy farms don’t really understand me. I often find myself trying to explain my life to them, and I’m not always sure how. Even though I am a writer, I cannot always find the words. The only way I can ever really think to explain it is that my cows are my life, they mean everything to me, and everything I do I do because I love them. That in itself is always why when I hear people say what I do is cruel or inhuman I feel the need to speak up and say no. I always tell them when this happens that the easiest way to learn the truth is to find an actual local farmer and ask if you can visit the farm. I’m not sure if all farmers feel the same way as I do, in fact I’m sure there are some out there that don’t, but I do know most farmers are motivated by love for the animals they care for.

Because all farmers do is actually care for their cows, not harm them. Cows became domesticated millions of years ago; like a cat or a dog that lives in the house they would not be able to survive on their own. Farmers are out there sometimes over twelve hours a day or more to make sure the cows are safe, healthy and happy. Every day is devoted to the cows. Not that there aren’t some bad days. I can’t even count the number of times I have left the barn just mentally or physically exhausted and wanting to be home or crying because something didn’t go right or because a cow accidentally hurt me in some way. I’ve even heard my dad on his worst days saying he doesn’t know why he keeps doing this. I never tell him I know the exact reason why; it’s for the love of the cows.

Now I have never had a boyfriend. I have never seen the need. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what it’s like to be in love. I’ve just had yet to experience it with a human that is not a friend or part of my family . But I know what it is to love a cow more than anything else, including myself. I’ve been showing cows and working on the farm for almost a third of my life. I know what it’s like to feel the ups and downs of life, especially since there’s more of that on a dairy farm than probably anywhere else in the world. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve had where the barn was my only sanctuary, and I felt like the cows were the only ones that understood me. And I can’t tell you how much it hurt to see any of them suffer even if they weren’t my own special show cow, because there are no words to describe that. The worst days of my life have often included the words “there’s nothing more that can be done.” And there are no words to describe how much those words can rip your heart out.

Throughout my life I have often found my best friends in my cows. I understand that people who don’t know me, and who’ve never lived or will never live the life I do will never understand that. And I feel sorry for them, because they will never know this love that I do. Maybe someday I will be like my dad, with days where I question why I keep on doing what I do. But then again maybe not, because I know the answer to that question is love. Everything I do is done for love, the love of a cow.

Chautauqua County Fair Day 4: Wednesday

Well I’m still not sure really if it’s a good thing or bad thing that today was my last ever Open Class show. I mean I don’t really know that about this fair week in general. I do know that I am super tired and I am definitely ready to be able to sleep at ten o’clock or before if I want to.

But anyway today was what one might call a pretty successful showing day. The one goal I decided to have for this week was for my Jersey calf, Hazel, who happens to be the granddaughter of Eclipse who died a week and a half ago exactly, to beat at least one cow in her class. Mainly because with my Jerseys this has only happened I think once before in my seven years at the fair. This also happens to be exactly what happened so I decided right then and there that no matter what my other cows got, I got what I wanted for the week.

But I didn’t really need to worry about that. Sammy was the only one in her class so she got first in her class and Rory got third out of three in her class but neither of them did anything more than that. This is okay though because they still get the ribbons to hang above them for the rest of the week and we’re still able to say they got first and third.

And then there was my Milking Shorthorn, Charlie. She definitely didn’t walk her best today, so much so that the judge even noticed and said she wasn’t doing herself justice. Even with that he still liked her and Charlie ended up winning Reserve Junior Champion. I have to admit I was a bit surprised because I thought some of the others looked better than her, but hey I’m not complaining, and I don’t really know all that much about judging anyway. This is also the second Reserve Champion I ever got that wasn’t simply given because there was only one or two of the breed at the fair. And the last time just happened to be Annabeth, otherwise known as Charlie’s mother, and this was four years ago.

So even though Charlie didn’t walk as good as I would’ve liked and I’m now debating whether or not to use her for showmanship tomorrow like I had originally planned, it was still a great day. I also spent part of my evening playing Uno and a game called Flinch with one of my favorite fellow fair families/friends ever which I enjoyed a lot. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow with my last 4-H show ever will bring me.

On Shows

Well this is my last blog before the fair, so I decided to just talk a bit about showing and what exactly the shows entail. There are two shows for the dairy program, the 4-H show and the Open Class show. Every year the shows are always Wednesday and Thursday during the week, and the first few days before that always seem super slow and boring, but then the show days come and all of a sudden the week is over. But anyway, both days the shows start at nine o’clock in the morning and most of the time go to about three o’clock ish in the afternoon.

The Open Class show goes by age class (I think but I might be mixing the shows up????). This means that the calves, heifers and cows that are in the same age group get shown around the same time. It still goes by breeds, starting with Holstein, then Jerseys, and goes on after that, but once it gets to the end of the age group it goes on to the next age.

Now the 4-H show starts with showmanship. Showmanship is when a kid picks one of their best cows that are around a good size for them and then they get judged on how well they show them. Then after that at about 11 it goes into the rest of the 4-H show, which this time goes by breeds, so it goes through all of the Holsteins and then all of the Jerseys, etc. etc.

It’s kind of hard to describe it in words, which you’d think after this long it would be for me but oh well. So like I said this is probably my last post before the fair and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to blog during it. It all depends on if I can make it work on my phone or not, and also the amount of time I have. But if I don’t have time, I’ll make sure I write down posts in a notebook or something and the week after it’ll be posts about the fair the whole time.