Dear Bovines in residence,
    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to take a moment to thank you. I do not thank you often enough for the little things you do to make our lives more rich and full. I would like to amend that with this letter.
    Thank you to all of you that successfully push out calves on your own. My entire body appreciates all of your efforts. I am also thankful for you among calves that possess the brain cells to suck a bottle in your first few hours of life. I apologize to those of you that have been tubed as a result of my low patience level.
    A special note of thanks to the mischievous 10 ladies that managed to hide behind the house in the hay field in the dark last week; you know who you are pen four. The extra exercise in the freezing cold carrying a 25-pound child gave me a boost of energy. In the daylight of the following day, I noticed you left some fertilizer deposits on the lawn, not to mention the craters that make it feel like I am walking on Mars. If I could be so bold, perhaps next time 20 of your closest friends sneak out with you, could you please make sure the ground is already frozen, or at least has not rained in the past 24 hours? Thank you kindly.
    Thank you to the girls that come to visit me in the hospital barn that bring along their will to live. Sometimes that is all it takes to make it through a bad bout of mastitis, girls. If you try to eat, everything I do will work that much better. As much as I like to see some of you, I do love to see you go. Muffin dear, we know your constant bellowing is not a sign of disdain for us, just missing your comrades in pen one.
    To the overstocked post fresh cows, a personal thank you. I apologize that your pen is ridiculously full. There are so many of your friends calving at the moment, and until more cows find a new career, your pen will be full to the brim. You are doing a terrific job of staying on task with eating and milking. Keep up the good work. Only one D.A. surgery in months. You should take pride in that achievement. Also, we are thankful on moving days when you cooperate and do not run like a pack of wild hyenas. It makes for a clean, smooth operation for all involved. We know you do not enjoy seeing your pals land in the poop.
    Dry cows and heifers, you have a good life down there in the warmest barn on the farm. Enjoy, eat up and rest up, so you have plenty of milk to give us when you get promoted to the milking barn. Transition cows, some of you lately have not been prepared to milk, and we are in dire need of your colostrum. Thank you for the little bit you can give, but do try to be prepared to go to work as soon as that calf comes out. I offer this advice for the good of all.
    Thank you beautiful bovines for your patience at being locked in the headlocks. I do not forget you; there are days when I have other things to finish before I can get to vaccinating. I know that is not your favorite activity. Trust me when I say it is not mine either. I will try to be more attentive to the clock in the future.
     A very heartfelt thank you to all first-calf heifers that are calm, cool and collected when you are directed into my milking parlor for your first experience. Those of you that come ready to fight, you have it written all over your face with your head held high, jumpy and nervous. Let me tell you, it is a job you are destined for. The faster you accept that this is your role in life, the better it will be. No ropes, no nose-leader and no reprimands with a cane. It is a better deal for all of us if you take a deep breath and let me put the milker on without throwing a fit that leaves both of us on our last nerve.
    Thank you for the delicious milk you produce that in turn produces spectacular cheeses. I always mention your efforts when using it for meals for the growing children and guests. They know it is you that do the work of making the cheese taste divine. Keep up the good work, girls.
    To the old cows I have witnessed in labor over the years as I myself was pregnant, you are better teachers at being calm between contractions than any book could ever tell. Thank you for your wisdom. It has served me well.
    The leaders of the herd that have had to be trucked to pasture to assist in steering reluctant young heifers onto the trailer, your dedication has not gone unnoticed. To some of those same seasoned milking veterans, thank you for teaching the young recruits the proper way to handle oneself in the parlor. I apologize for putting some frisky young upstarts within your groups, but I do so because I know you will put them in their place.
    A special thanks to each and every one of you for giving me a reason to get outside and work every day. You give my children a warm barn to play in in the cold months and ample water access in the summer. You also help me teach them innumerable life lessons. Through you they learn about life and death, responsibility, patience, gentleness and how love can move beyond humans to provide for animals. My existence is tied to yours, and I could not begin to imagine my life without you. Thank you.
    Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wis. Her children, Ira (11), Dane (9), Henry (4) and Cora (adventurous crawler), help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones, or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos – and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.