Thank you all for the kindness and concern you shared after my last column.
    I truly appreciate all of your caring words and gestures.
    I am also surprised by how many other dairy farmers shared their stories of close calls or actual physical harm from encounters with fresh cows. We talk a lot about how dangerous dairy bulls are, but I don’t think we recognize the danger potential in cows – especially fresh cows.
    My encounter has certainly changed my attitude. At times, it’s difficult to not be completely paranoid. Most of the time I keep my feelings tempered to worry or concern or alertness. And I will allow those feelings to remain. Concern and alertness are character traits that keep farmers and their families safe.
    These feelings are hard to grapple with. I trusted our cows. I trusted them to be gentle with our kids. Heck, I’ve raised every one of our cows alongside our kids. But now that trust has been tarnished. It feels unfair that the actions of just one cow have changed my relationship with all of our cows.
    And, to answer the most asked question: Yes, we still have Goldfish. She is definitely on a watch list, but she was not an aggressive cow before the attack and has not shown any signs of aggression since. I believe her protective maternal instincts took over when she perceived me as a threat. And, thankfully, my instincts kicked in, as well, and got me out of the situation.
    Most of my injuries are healing well. I haven’t been able to do everything I’d like yet, but I was able to make it to our county fair.

Blue ribbon bunnies
    I wrote earlier this year about Monika and Daphne’s venture into the 4-H rabbit project. We ended up with two live bunnies out of a litter of 11. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong with the bunnies that didn’t make it, but they provided for some good discussions about neonatal mortality, especially in small mammals.
    The two live bunnies grew at record bunny pace. The mama rabbit milked like a cow and with only two to feed, it didn’t take long before we were worried about them being too heavy for their class at the fair.
    The bunnies ended up being perfectly-sized market rabbits, and Monika earned a blue ribbon. Daphne got a Cloverbud rabbit trophy for her efforts.
    We brought the bunnies home from the fair and discussions ensued about the bunnies’ fate. New Zealand rabbits are raised for their meat, but Monika and Daphne really don’t like that idea. Glen and Dan are hankering for rabbit. So apparently, my vote will break the tie. I guess this isn’t the rest of the story, because there’s more to come. To be continued…

Champion chickens
    There was never a question about the fate of Dan’s market chickens. They’re already chilling in our freezer. We’ll be eating champion chickens for another year. I’m telling you, market chickens are the best tasting 4-H project.
    Dan accomplished his goal of winning the market chicken class again at our county fair. He also earned blue ribbons with his breeding pen and egg production pens, but fell short of earning a state fair trip with any of his chickens. I’m sure he’ll take the lessons he learned this year, apply them to next year’s project, and try again.

State fair bound
    Chickens weren’t Dan’s ticket to the state fair this year, but, happily, he earned trips with two of his heifers, Maybelline and Gallium. I happened to be leading Gallium in state fair line up, so I got to see the excitement wash over Dan when the judge pulled Maybelline into line right next to Gallium.
    Dan decided to take Maybelline to the state fair, I think because of the bond between them. Dan showed Maybelline as a spring calf last year. Ever since, she’s been a true pet. Whenever Dan walks into the heifer yard, Maybelline walks up to him for some loving.
    This means that 20 years after I met a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy from a dairy farm in Stearns County at the Great Minnesota Get Together, I’ll be watching another blond-haired, blue-eyed boy from a dairy farm in Stearns County show his favorite heifer at the Minnesota State Fair.
    When the elder Stearns County dairy boy was a 4-Her, he showed Holsteins at the state fair. When I was a 4-Her, I showed a Milking Shorthorn at the state fair. Maybelline is a Holstein-Milking Shorthorn Cross.
    It’s kind of crazy the way things work out.
    Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have three children – Dan, 11, Monika, 8, and Daphne, 5. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at sadiefrericks@gmail.com.