September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Barn bonding

By Jacqui Davison- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Chore time has long been a spot for some quality family bonding time in our family, as is probably true with yours as well. I can remember being a youngster and walking the stall barn with my dad asking him the names of all of the cows and upon reaching a cow that was only known by her number I had to give her a very special name. I used to have a notebook filled with cow names just ready to be attached to a newborn calf in any letter family. Dad and I used to milk stall barn cows together and to pass the time we would play 'The Guessing Cow Game". We both knew the family lines of the cows and their personalities quite well so we would challenge each other. One hint would go something like this, "I'm thinking of a cow that has twin daughters milking." If one of us couldn't get it right on the first clue it would lead to a few extra clues. (By the way, Dad, the answer there is Maude, whose daughters were Midge and Mitze.) We were allowed to do the cows living and dead so it made it more challenging. It always passed the time milking cows and was a special thing that we did together.
If our parents were gone and it was just us kids milking cows and doing chores, the games didn't provide near as much brain exercise. There is the classic fight: squirting milk across the walkway when your milking partner wasn't paying any attention. That game was parent approved; the rest of our games were ones that we couldn't do when an adult was present. For instance, our dipper throwing contest - we would challenge each other to see how far apart we could stand while throwing a full dipper and not spilling any. Talk about coordination. Stall cows lent themselves to another painful sort of activity, cow curd chucking. Cow curd (not to be confused with cheese curd!) is the name given to those hard clumps of manure that ball up on a cow's side from too long in the stall. We would roam the barn to find the biggest, hardest ones we could find and then throw them at one another as hard as we could. The pain endured from those manure rocks was nothing compared to having a fresh cow pie tossed at lightning speed in your direction and being on target. I would take dry over fresh manure any day - the gross factor trumps the pain factor in this case.
I know that these activities weren't just regular occurrences in our barn either - my cousins and I have had a good chuckle over all of the things we did when we were young. We always got the chores done and those ridiculous games are a great memory of the things we did to make work fun between us five kids.
Now that I have my boys in the barn with me I find myself trying to come up with ways to entertain them while we milk. This winter was so wicked they spent more time in the parlor with me than outside in the snow and cold. Ira and I would play "Hangman" on the barn wall (it's like one big dry erase board). It was a great way to practice spelling words or tell him something fun - like the night I did Rockton Bar as his words to guess what we were doing after chores. Dane sits in the doorway of the vet room in front of my cows with his little dry erase board in hand and practices writing numbers of the cows down. Then he goes down the line and tries to read them back to me, he is finally starting to get the numbers six, eight, and nine cemented into his brain. It passed those nightly milkings with fewer fights from cooped up boys and was a great way to spend some time with them after they had been at school all day long.
The games they play outside, when I am milking by myself and peering out the window at them, are a different story. Last Saturday, they had disappeared into the corn field below the hutches and were combing it for leftover corn cobs with any amount of kernels in them. I'm not sure why, but they had a slide built to put them on so they would end up in their little playhouse. There are also the endless bike games that involve going through the barn (now that it is finally warm enough to keep the garage doors open) a certain number of times. I believe they even drew a map of what way they were supposed to go on the floor in the feed alley. They can entertain themselves for hours if there are puddles with any significant amount of water in them. As they grow older and are allowed to roam farther out of my sight, I'm sure their games will change to meet the needs of big boys. I only hope they still like to play in puddles and sand piles when Henry gets a bit bigger so they can show him the ropes. Just like we did, I'm sure they will come up with some interesting games of their own that they'll get to laugh about for years to come.[[In-content Ad]]


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