By Amy Kathleen Miller
My painting “A Black and White Summer Day” reminds me of when my sister Karen and I raised calves together. There was a time when our great Uncle Pete, a dairy farmer, had to go on a trip. Karen, who was 12 at the time, and I at age 14 were told by our father that we could have the opportunity to milk Pete’s cows and make extra money for ourselves. We decided to do it.
That experience would leave us with good memories. The only thing I really hated, though, was Dad would wake Karen and me up at 5:30 a.m. I don’t exactly remember how long we milked those cows, but I don’t think it was very long. Maybe five days. I remember Dad teaching me to prep the cows for those milking machines and then putting bag balm on the cows’ udders when we were done milking. The cows were Holsteins, like the cows in my painting here.
Not too long after that experience, Dad got Karen and me a calf of our own to raise. Dad was very creative with names, and he came up with a name for my heifer calf, Esmerelda Potts. Karen’s calf was a bull so his name became Burt Benson. Dad got two more calves after that. One was named Benjamin Cool, and I can’t seem to remember the fourth one’s name because he died not long after we got him.
We had to feed the calves milk formula three times a day. We had buckets with nipples on them and we would mix the formula and then put it into the buckets, nice and warm, then we would take them outside and the calves would go crazy. They would suck the bottles of milk down with speed that you couldn’t believe. We would mix warm milk and feed them day after day, watching these little calves get bigger and fatter and sassier every day as time would march on.
One fun thing that I loved to do with my calf was to rub her above her tail. She liked that because it was in an area where cows can never scratch on their own. I also liked to run with her by grabbing her tail, and she would run and drag me for five feet and then I would have let go of her tail and she would be running and bucking and kicking and then she would come back for more. Calves also loved to suck on my fingers, thinking I was the bucket with the warm milk in it.
When our calves finally grew big enough, we sold them and that was how I bought my first pair of contact lenses.
I will always remember my calf Esmerelda Potts, and that is what my painting brings to mind.
Editor’s Note: “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media
- Cow Tales from the Dairy Farm: Why I’m not a Jersey Fan (farmtek.wordpress.com)
- The Cow-Calf Operation (thepioneerwoman.com)
- Search for a Lost Calf (northfieldfarm.com)
- Not just for milking anymore (blackinkwithcab.com)
- An Evening Checking The Cows (jbense.wordpress.com)