Thursday, August 03, 2006


Summertime…Just that one word pretty much sums it all up. From watermelon seed spitting contests, to hot hazy humid days, right on to the county fairs, everything just seems to go by too quickly. School starts for me in just a couple of weeks (26 days to be exact), and the fair is in less than two (12 days and counting). Calves are being washed, led, clipped, and basically pampered to the point that they are getting very, very spoiled. While I can’t wait for the fair to get here, I am also dreading it. Fair week means two to four hours of sleep max at night, long drives back and forth from the grounds, bathing cows in the cool morning air before the sun even touches the horizon, and, when it is over and the cows are back safely at home, school is just that much closer.

The dairy show kicks off on Thursday morning, generally somewhere between 10 and 10:30, with the Jerseys, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorns and Guernseys all showing then. The little 4-H kids generally drag their calves and cows around the ring again somewhere around two in the afternoon. To say the least they always have a blast. With such a small fair everyone is close friends so we all have a heck of a lot of fun. The last show of the day gets started with the “Over the Hill” showmanship at 6:30, followed by the Holsteins and the Ayrshires. Kind of sad, but at 20 I now count as Over the Hill, I personally would much prefer well seasoned.

The worst part of the week for me is showing both in the morning with my few Jerseys, and again late at night with my, generally many more, Holsteins. This year I will only have two Jerseys, baby Hazel, and her older sister, Hooter. I have decided to leave their mother home, mostly because I can’t stand the thought of bagging three animals up for shows that are so far apart. Bagging involves putting more hours between milking so that there is more milk in the udder so the cows look fancier. Then at night I have a huge batch of our Holsteins going in. They range in age from little junior calves, on up to my gangly three year old. They total eight in all, two junior calves, one senior calf, two junior yearlings, one senior yearling (any one else seeing a bit of a pattern?), one senior two year old (baby brother’s cow), one three year old, and a dry two year old.

I miss having my old aged cow, Dixie, on years like this. She was the easiest critter to handle. It was like she waited all year for the fair. I’d start getting her clipped and washed up about two weeks prior, and she would just KNOW that it was time and would stand staring hard at the big black CornPro stock trailer next to the cattle yard as if to say “Isn’t it time to go yet?”. Ever year I handed her over after milking to the little girl whose father runs the milking parlor so that the kid could lead her back to her stall and feel special. Somehow that cow who was so gigantic next to the little four, then five, then six-year-old always managed to miss stepping on little kid feet.

Tuesday we all, minus mom, went to a local feed mill for their annual BBQ and I ran in to some people I have shown with for years. I didn’t think anyone at the fair had noticed the lack of her presence. But the two ladies asked me what had happened to her because they had noticed she hadn’t been at the fair in a few years. It still makes me heart sick to think of losing her just over three years ago now. She got milk fever just after calving, and despite everything we all did, us and one of the vets at the local large animal clinic, we couldn’t get her to turn around and get better. We literally threw the proverbial kitchen sink at her, anything and everything we heard of that even remotely sounded like it would work was given to her, after we had talked to the vet to see if she thought it would react with anything else she had already had, but nothing seemed to do any good. I guess sometimes it is just time to let things go, but I still miss her. Last year, I filled a large picture frame with photos of her from the time she was a calf, up right until the year before she died, even throwing in a photo of her sire, a little half black half white bull my dad bought way back when, to show how much alike they looked. It will certainly always go along with the other decorations, so Dixie will always have her ‘Special Spot’ in the show line.

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