For the past couple weeks when the cows go out for their daily exercise, they spend the first part of their recess standing at the fence - gazing intently toward the pasture. I think they can smell the grass growing.

Even Dan noticed the greener landscape. Running across the lawn one afternoon he suddenly stopped, as if noticing for the first time that the ground was green again.

"Eat grass," he said as he dropped to his hands and knees and lowered his head to the ground like he was going to take a bite.

"No, no, honey," I said. "Little boys don't eat grass; cows eat grass."

And this spring, thanks to the availability of a neighboring pasture, our cows will once again eat grass. For the past two seasons, our cows were limited to two acres of pasture. It's not hard to imagine what happens when you let 50 cows out onto two acres of grassy hillsides. After a couple bites, the pasture quickly became a sorely overgrazed playground.

I'm not sure who will be more excited when we open the gate to the pasture next Monday - me or the cows. Many of the memorable moments of my youth happened out in the pasture. I still love being out there with the cows - just me and the girls. Now, Dan and Monika will have the opportunity to fall in love with cows on grass and create pasture memories of their own.

One of my favorite memories was the morning I became a poet. Prior to that morning, I had penned haiku and other poetry in my high school English classes, but those poems were always forced. A true poem starts in the heart, not the head. This was the only poem I have ever truly been inspired to write. A true gift - dropped down from above one morning while it was still too early to think.

I remember the morning vividly: I pulled myself out of bed, threw on my barn clothes, shovelled down some breakfast and hustled out to the barn. After putting feed down, I headed out to the paddocks to get the cows.

The morning was thick with fog, like someone had saturated the air with cotton balls. The grass was wet. The kind of wet that soaked your jeans and sent you back to the house for a dry pair. As I wandered through the fields, the words of my poem drifted into my head. With nothing else to do but listen, I let the verses roll along.

As soon as I got back to the barn, I grabbed a pen and stood over the bulk tank recording my words onto the brown paper KowTowels we used to dry the cows. My poem was never transcribed to any other paper.

These are the words once so determined to dance in my heart:

Wandering o'er the fields of green,

Searching for cows yet unseen.

Calling them, pleading, "Come boss, come boss."

Hoping and praying I don't get lost.

Searching o'er the fields of dawn,

Wondering where the cows have gone.

Shouting, "C'mon girls, it's time to go!"

I'm sure they hear me, I'm sure they know.

Walking through the fields in the fog,

Checking my watch I break into a jog.

"Let's go, ladies. Get in the barn!"

Echos all across the farm.

Running through fields in the rain,

swearing I'll never do this again.

"Mooove it girls. Get outta here,"

Falls upon every listening ear.

Tromping through fields in the snow,

Trying to find that last "no show."

At last I see her, "Hurry up, lazy!"

I'm sure the neighbors all think I'm crazy.

Tiptoeing through a field in the dark

Telling my little dog not to bark.

"Be quiet, you'll scare her," says my Dad.

Approaching the heifer about to calve.

Soon the girls will have a chance to fill their bellies with sweet spring grass. And, once again, we'll be wandering through the fields with them, making memories for a new generation of grazers.

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 50 cows near Melrose, Minnesota with help from their two-year-old son, Dan and their newborn daughter, Monika. When she's not parenting or farming, she's writing for the Dairy Star. She can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.