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