Sunday, August 9, 2009

You can call her Betsy

For some reason my wife and I were talking about milking cows. I cannot remember why. From my limited experience with herds of cows (Heard of cows? Of course I've heard of cows!) there is always at least one in every herd that has a peculiarity. There always seems to be one cow, let's call her Betsy or number 83, that just has to be hand-milked rather than machine suckled. Or maybe a cow that has a specific booth it must be milked in, no other spot will do.

This is something I have had first-hand knowledge of on more than one occasion ... but it was the first time that always sticks in my memory. I was a wee lad when I first got to stay on a dairy farm for a day or so. I don't remember many specifics of that time, I was young, but I do have a crystal-clear recollection of my first cow-ride (something I am reminded of whenever I play the Wii Play made-of-wool cow-racing game).

The cow probably had a name, let's say it was Betsy or number 83, and was considered to be the tame one of the herd. It was milking time, and it had been going on for sometime. I probably looked bored, so to liven things up the farmer asked if I wanted a ride on Betsy (83). I'm sure I said, "No", but the "No" of a young kid never really counts for anything in these circumstances. I was duly picked up and plonked onto the back of Betsy.

There were right. Betsy was a very calm cud-chewer. I should probably mention that I seem to have bad luck when it comes to riding animals. I once rode a pony that would not stop chewing my toes. Even a moon-hopper got away from me once.

Betsy was one of those cows that just had to be milked in stall number 2. None of the other five stalls was good enough for Betsy. There I was, nervously perched on Betsy's back when stall number 2 became vacant. Like Moses, Betsy seemed to be able to part the sea of bovine backsides ahead of her, and she raced towards her favourite milking station ... with me on her back.

I ended up hanging from the bar above the stall entrance, knocking off the little reciprocating rod that was part of the suction machinery, bringing proceedings to a halt while they rescued me, and, more importantly, reset the milking system.

Needless to say ... I have never ridden a cow since.

Artwork by Guy Landry

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