Lover, the Gentle Giant
By Sandy Collins -
Story #2 –
Two unexpected welcomers greeted shy, 5 and 6 year old girls on a January day in 1955. After we met ‘Ike’ the dog, in a previous the story, our second welcome wagon surprise was ‘Lover’, a spotted Holstein cow. Our parents had just finished moving their young family to the 160 acre dairy farm where our dad grew up before he went into WWII service. After raising 14 children on the family farm, his parents were finally ready to retire.
Wendy, Ike and I tagged along with Dad through snow, up to the barn for the first time. Our big brother Kenny slid the barn door open just enough for all of us to enter into the dimly lit cavern. In unison we exclaimed “It stinks!, holding our little noses. Several deep bellows reverberated off the walls as we made our way to the back of the barn. We found ourselves standing in front of a huge, four-legged spotted giant, with big eyes. As the Holstein slowly lowered her massive head to gaze eye to eye, we quickly jumped back.
Behind us, we heard Kenny laugh. “Meet Lover, the friendliest cow in the herd. She will even let you ride on her back!” he exclaimed, and climbed up to demonstrate. We soon learned this was Lover’s reserved place in the barn, right next to the silo where corn silage was stored, and special offerings could be easily dispensed.
Dad was a bit more practical. “To make milk, cows need to drink a lot of water. All farm animals need clean water. The wooden water tank outside next to the barn is for cattle and horses to drink from during the summer. It is not a swimming pool.” Dad explained. Inside the barn, well water was piped from the milk house, to each cow’s stanchion. Wendy and I soon became mesmerized as we watched the cows individually fill their own water-cups by pushing down a lever with their noses.
I can still hear the loud clanking contraptions and the sound of running water echoing through the barn.
Thinking back, our cows enjoyed a pretty healthy lifestyle. After long summer days of grazing in meadows, drinking from the fresh trout stream, being milked twice daily, they also had a straw bed to sleep upon. Sunlight, fresh air, clean water, healthy food, exercise, and a full night’s rest is good for cows, and still good for people!