Don Hill: Cows and udder stuff

Have you ever milked a cow?

I never got the hang of it. Dad milked the two or sometimes three cows while he sat on a one-legged stool. He would cuss when the cow would swish its tail to shoo away the flies. The tail would usually slap him across the face. There was a hand-pumped fly sprayer that was in the barn that helped.

Since Highway 41 cut through our property, Dad had to tote the pails of milk across the highway to the milk house. Mom kept the milk house spick and span in case an inspector came around unexpectedly.

I remember large round cotton filters used in the strainer and the handcranked cream separator. Glass milk bottles with pasteboard caps were filled, ready for Dad and brother Dave to take them on the small milk route in town. It was one of many incomes that got the family through the Depression.

Here’s some cow history. I knew you would ask. Well, in the early 1600s, immigrants brought cattle with them from Europe to supply their families with dairy products and meat. Although many different breeds of cattle, including Durham, Ayrshire, Guernsey, Jersey and Brown Swiss, were imported through the next few centuries, it was not until the late 1800s that cattle breeds were developed specifically for dairy purposes.

Of course, there are other products besides milk and meat. Cow chips for example. Yes, that’s dried cow dung in case you are not on the farm. It was used as fuel in the pioneer days. I’m sure you could find other uses, such as Frisbees. Make sure they are very sundried before catching one of them. And if you want a car that runs on methane, just buy you a cow. They burp it.

Cow tipping is a prank usually known in urban areas and likely is a tall tale. It involves sneaking up on a cow at night when they are sleeping standing up and pushing them over. In case you try it some night, be sure it isn’t a bull. You might get tipped.

Once on a bus trip, the guide kept referring to crocheted cows. We thought she was nuts. Later, she explained they were simply black cows. Crow-shaded, get it. We didn’t.

Now just in case you want to save on buying milk and think about having a cow on your property here in Seymour, you will find Ordinance 97.30 telling you no, no, no can do. If this upset you, just follow Bart Simpson’s advice, “Don’t have a cow!”

So much for serious and udder matters. I’ve milked it all I can. And a happy moo to you, too.

Don Hill is a resident of Seymour and a longtime volunteer for Southern Indiana Center for the Arts. Send comments to [email protected].