1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

Cow Poop, Barn Cats, and a Milk Maid

Uncouth cow!

Uncouth cow!

It wasn’t enough that a mad heifer once trampled me. Dad’s milk cows insisted on getting the last word, whether with hard hooves or soft poop.

If one of our cows was freshening or had mastitis (there was always at least one) we gave its milk to the barn cats. An average of fifteen cats, with gusts up toward fifty, pushed each other to crowd around the pan of warm milk. Dad also provided a giant bag of Purina dog food to supplement their mouse catching.

Cows think it’s funny to kick over milk cans or create a lump on your shin bone. One cow set her sights on a barn cat and kicked him in the head. The cat lived, but his head tilted to one side, like he was looking at an invisible object at ten o’clock high. We immediately named him Screw-head. He walked fine, but his running wasn’t so good. He ran in circles.

A lovely milk maid surrounded by barn cats.

A lovely milk maid surrounded by barn cats.

I christened one of our barn cats Sonny Bono, after the male half of a newly popular duo called Sonny and Cher. He was almost pure white with a tiny bit of gray on his head. His sole occupation was licking himself as clean as possible, nonstop.

Cows have extremely soft poop. When a cow gets diarrhea it is not pretty.

One morning, Sonny sat on the walkway behind a cow with diarrhea. The cow coughed, and her last meal shot out like water from a fireman’s hose.

A shit pyramid sat in the spot where moments ago Sonny had been. Two eyes blinked open in the tar-baby mound. Sonny sat in shock for a moment, then took off like a brown lightening streak. Sonny Bono never resumed his cleaning fetish.

Our milking parlor was shaped like a T with the top of the T about two feet higher than the stem. The milk house was above the T, to the left of the stem intersection.

In the early spring I carried my two half-pails of milk up a ramp from the lower section to the upper, heading toward the milk house. Instead of walking three extra steps to a ramp over the manure trough, I cut the corner and stepped across.

My foot slid on a splattering of slippery poop that plopped short of the trough. I landed with my entire backside stretched out in the sloppy trough and a coating of warm milk splashed down my front.

www.epa.gov Cows would be lined up on each side with big fat butts facing the trough.

Cows would be lined up on each side with big fat butts facing the trough.

A lovely milk maid and her temperament are not so lovely when coated in cow poop.

“Hey Mary, are you trying to make chocolate milk?” asked David.

“Quit lying down on the job,” said Dad. “And look at all the milk you spilled.”

Dad and David kept laughing as I stormed up to the house, looking like Sonny Bono. I refused to go to school that day.

My fellow barn workers didn’t laugh long because it marked my last morning carrying milk before school. I continued cleaning the milk house on weekends for another couple of months. Dad said the floor and equipment were never so clean. I’m sure he was right.

Lesson learned: Never mock a milk maid.

Related posts: Chapter Twelve: Milk Maid; Chapter Eleven: Mad Cow Hero

Now it’s your turn: Let’s hear your cow mischief story!

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. mikesteeden says:

    Another gem – sadly I not (being a city lad originally) a tale to tell. Great post.

  2. Good one “milk maid”. I’ve had cow crap all over me so many times over the years you kind of get use to it. To many, it’s better than the fluids and after birth after pulling a calf. Funny story. 😀

  3. Val Mills says:

    Ha, ha, I do indeed have a cow poop story. I was a young teacher from the city, my first year of teaching in the country. I lived on a dairy farm and late one Saturday night, on my way home from a party, I was dropped at the farm gate. You can guess what I encountered on that dark moonless night as I walked up the farm driveway.

  4. suzjones says:

    Love it. We are actually going out to a dairy today. The local robotic dairy is having an open day. 🙂

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Suz, what a great idea. I needed a robotic milk maid!

      • suzjones says:

        It was amazing to see. The cows go into these enclosures when they are ready and the doors close on them and milking begins. Then they just wander out and start feeding again. This guy has a processing plant attached to the milking shed so the milk goes straight through to there.

      • skinnyuz2b says:

        Suz, our farm was definitely not robotic. We had to hand carry the milk in buckets and dump it in the bulk tank. Now they have tubes that pump the milk right to the tank.

  5. I’m afraid I’m a bit short on material for this one, too. Plenty of hearsay but no personal experience apart from the odd misplaced foot. On the hearsay side I was told by a friend of mine how the relationship with his first girlfriend ended – walking home along one of our local lanes from a night out he persuaded her to slip behind the hedge with him for, shall we say, a little private time? You can guess what they lay down in. Apparently, it was extremely fresh.

  6. Glynis Jolly says:

    Although I’ve never landed in the stuff, I’ve been close enough to it to wish I had a clothes pin. I don’t blame you for quiting the milking routine.

  7. Choosing says:

    I am just trying to imagine this poor cat covered in cow poop… not to mention you lying in it… No cow stories here… but I could tell a few about sea gull poop… – never mind. 😉

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Choosing, my Daddy-O still laughs at the picture of Sonny. Everyone knows not to laugh at the memory of me in the poop.
      Sea gull poop is horrible, with a rotten fish smell. My brother got his with it on a fishing trip.

  8. Morguie says:

    Going to save this to show a friend of mine who owns a large dairy here in town. Lol!

  9. spunkybong says:

    I like you, Skinny, but I have to sue you. Your posts give me a stumik cramp. At my age it ain’t nice. Look out for a large legal envelope within the next few days. 😀

  10. […] Related posts: Chapter Thirteen: Working Jello Girl; Chapter Twelve: Cow Poop, Barn Cats, and a Milk Maid […]

  11. Aunt Beulah says:

    What a wonderfully funny post and what memories it inspired. My family, too, had cows and gave them names as colorful and descriptive as those you gave your cats: Bray’s Bonny Best Bucilla and Oh So Sweet Alice are good examples. We children, having no horse, rode cows. Our favorite mount was Bucilla, because Sweet Alice didn’t live up to her name.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks, Beulah. Dad gave all our cows names, too. Everyone of his and Mom’s female friends had a cow named after them.
      I tried riding a heifer once, it didn’t work out. I landed in a pile of fresh manure.

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