Saturday, August 1, 2015


 The word conjures up warm, moist, grassy breath, huffing snorting sounds, and a very large, moist nose.
Dad had names for all his cows. Names like Bessy, Bossy, Star and Mabel. The one I remember best was Star. She was a large Holstein, black and white, and a good milker. She was a great cow-mom. If there was an orphan calf, Star would gladly take it as her own.
Anything small came under her loving protection. One day when I was about four, we were out in the barn yard. I stood close to the barn, watching what my parents were doing. And along came Star. Lowering her great black and white head, she looked at me carefully, and decided I needed some grooming. Lovingly she licked me with that dreadful raspy tongue. Up my arm, my neck, the side of my face, and into my hair. I hurriedly backed away. Leisurely she stepped ahead, still licking. Rip, rip, rip. I yelled for my mother who, busy with some chore that required the use of both her hands looked over, and having assessed the situation, saw no need to rescue me.
"She won't hurt you. She likes you."
The words brought little comfort. I finally sidled to the big sliding door, turned my back on that terrible tongue, getting the back of my head thoroughly licked, and with all my strength heaved the door open enough to squeeze into.
It was dim and boring in the barn, but it was safe from Star, and I waited there until some bigger person could escort me safely to the truck.
Every spring we took the cows from the home quarter to summer pasture on the homestead.  It took all of us, and extended family, too, to walk them three miles. There had to be a person or vehicle blocking every driveway and crossroads. The cows hated crossing the railroad track, but could be coaxed over. Once we were on the final stretch the older cows would remember, and they would pick up the pace and hurry the last half mile. in the autumn we would reverse procedure, and bring them home. It was an adventure that marked the march of the seasons, and I can still remember the look of my shoes in the dust of the road as I walked behind the cows, holding safely to my sister's hand.

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