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Cows have it pretty good
April 30, 2012 - Kylie Saari
I spent the weekend on a cow farm in Wisconsin. Now, I have spent a bit of time on farms for this job — mostly hogs and grain — but this was my first time on a cow farm. Dairy to be exact, and it wasn't for work. I did it for fun.
By cow farm standards, the operation is a small one, with only two men running the show and an occasional hired hand during harvest.
As I stood watching the milking in a barn filled to capacity with cats and cows, I thought, these cows have it pretty good. I have heard a lot of the PETA-type arguments about food animals, and I have wondered myself about the wisdom of using land to grow crops to feed animals to eat when we could just eat the crops and eliminate the middle man, or in this case, cow.
But the farmer in question here, named Brian, really knew his cows. Twice a day he milks his cows, four at a time, taking care to clean their space, feed them, and make sure they are comfortable during the processes. He lets them stay in the barn when the weather is bad — cows don't necessarily like being out in a storm more than we do. The cows are on rotation, so they are never milking more than one year before having some time off for their bodies and reset, and believe it or not, he knew the cows by their names and personalities. January the cow was a bit lazy, preferring to lay down immediately after being milked. Another cow was a stinker and he had to treat her in a special way. Another was especially curious, attempting to grab my son's coat with her tongue to investigate the newcomer in the barn.
Brian said he'd raised all these cows since they were born. All weekend we drank raw milk and shoveled hay. We walked through the alfalfa field being careful not to trample down the cows' food.
It was good time. My horizon was expanded. And although I am not completely ready to pack up and move out to the farm, I definitely appreciate those who do.
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