It was Sunday, and I had slept late. The birds were singing, the sun was shining, and I just was dying to be outside! I ran outside and lay on the ground looking up at the sky. The beautiful sky. Then I sat up and saw Maria mixing some mineralsfor the cows.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" I ask.
"Sure, do you want to bring the heifers back?" She replies.
"Of course!" I answer.
Heifers are not calves and they are not yet cows, so I guess they are teenagers. Because they are not cows yet, they do not give milk. But they are all pregnant and when they give birth they will give milk and become cows. They become mothers at the age of 2!
I climbed the gate of the cow yard, and with the help of my dog Bodo we herded the cows out of the yard towards the pasture. The Heifers do not have water on pasture, so every day we bring them into the yard to drink. They get a lot of their water from all the fresh wet grass that they eat, especially since it has rained so much this spring. When the weather is dry, we keep them in the yard longer so they can drink more there. Coming in for a drink gets them used to coming into the yard every day, which is important because after they become mama cows they will be coming in twice a day to be milked! Once I have all the heifers on the lane towards their pasture, I check to make sure I was not leaving anyone behind. Oops! There was one heifer standing in the back.
"Go get 'em!" I tell Bodo.
Instantly Bodo runs to the heifer and herds her back. Bodo is a Border collie, which is a herding breed. Once I really do have all the heifers out of the yard, I get on the four-wheeler and lead them to their pasture. Every now and then they stop to eat the grass on the side. But Bodo takes care of that for me! As I drive behind them I need to be careful not to drive too close, because it is important to let them walk at their own pace. After all, they are walking and I'm driving!
When we finally reach the paddock it is time for my favorite part. The heifers spread out in all directions far into the paddock, and then as if in a dream they slowly, gracefully put down their heads and begin to eat. Grass. Green, lush, tall grass. And then they don't lift their heads up again.
A job well done! Bodo and I drive home, Bodo rides in the back, and he smiles as he sticks his face in the wind. And we just cruise home, this time at our own pace. When we are home I walk into the house, as if in a dream I slowly, gracefully pour myself a glass of milk. I bring the cup to my mouth and begin to drink. Milk. White, fresh, organic milk. And then I don't put the cup down again, until the glass is empty.
Have a great summer and remember to stay healthy by drinking lots of organic milk!
Farm Fact: If you milked cows by hand, one person could milk about four cows an hour.