The Holstein

Posted by Backyard Urban Gardening on Friday, November 13, 2009

My dad bought a holstein cow and calf when I was five years old. I remember seeing the calf for the first time in the barn. He was a little bundle of fur laying in a pile of wheat straw near his mother to keep warm. I named him Lazy.

Lazy The Calf was bottle fed beginning a few days after birth. Twice a day my mom mixed white powder and warm water in quart sized plastic bottles.

I remember my dad scraping ice off the windshield and riding with him to the barn twice a day for feedings. The windshield defroster must not have worked well because my dad sometimes drove with his head half out of the window to see the road. I sat in the passenger seat shivering in the cold air, but didn't complain.

At first the calf barely drank one bottle, but it wasn't many days until we were carrying two or three bottles with us for feedings. Later on, as the calf grew bigger, we took one bottle and refilled it from a bucket of powdered milk mix that we carried with us.

As the calf grew bigger he was weaned from the bottle feedings and turned into the pasture to eat grass with all the other cows. With all of the personalized attention, the calf became very tame and unafraid of me. I would stand at the gate calling, "Lazy. Here La-a-a-a-zy." And she would come running toward the gate with hopes that I'd pet her. Lazy liked to be scratched on the hard patch of black and white fur right between the eyes. This became our after supper ritual for several weeks.

I'd always wanted a horse. Mom said, "Talk to your father," and dad said, "They cost too much." Realizing I was never getting a horse, I came up with an idea that seemed great at the time.

I couldn't have a horse, so I would just have to improvise. I made a halter from binder twine. I called for Lazy and put the halter on - conscious of the ears and eyes. I climbed aboard and sat up straight. Without formal reins or a saddle my legs dangled freely. Finally, I was riding. It had been easy. My five year old mind was loving it.

Lazy started a slow walk forward. Before long the slow walking steps turned into longer running steps - alternating slow and fast with sporadic stops. It felt like several minutes, but was probably only a few seconds. During one of the stops I decided that I'd had enough and jumped off to the ground. As I reached up to remove the homemade halter, Lazy turned her head unexpectedly and one of the short nubby horns hit me straight in the mouth knocking out one of my front teeth.

My rodeo career had started and then ended all in one night. After that night, I stayed around the yard and the calf stayed with the other cows in the pasture. Our friendship ended and I'd learned a valuable lesson. Four hundred pound holstein heifers do not make good pets for sixty pound pound five year olds.


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