Where’s your happy place?
My happy place is in the pasture with the cows. Whether I’m by myself or the kids are walking along with me, getting the cows in for milking is my favorite job on the farm.
There’s just so much to love about getting the cows. Traipsing through the grass is like exercise, meditation, and an opportunity to reconnect with God’s creation all in one. When I really want my time in the pasture to be restorative, I play Pachelbel’s Canon in D on my phone while I walk.
I love watching the cows and their behavior. Sometimes they see me coming and start heading to the barn right way. Other days, they must feel more mischievous; those days they turn and kick up their heels in the opposite direction. I will admit, those moments can be frustrating, but I have to assume the cows love their time in the pasture as much as I do.
I love watching Murky, our little dog. He always comes along. He races through the pasture, slowing at times to follow scent trails. When we’re following the cows back to the barn, he likes to pretend he’s actually a cow dog. His natural herding instinct is strong, but I haven’t taken time to develop it through training.
Ozzy, our old dog, sometimes comes along during cooler months. Those pasture walks are especially delightful. Ozzy is 11 years old now and his age is really starting to show. His joints are stiffening and the heat of summer bothers him.
I love watching the wildlife in the pasture, too. Mostly it’s birds and butterflies, but if I’m quiet enough as I approach the ponds, I can watch the turtles slide off the fallen trees into the water when they notice me.
Walking the pasture is wonderful, but it’s practical, too. It’s the best way to catch cows in heat, check the fences, and monitor grass growth.
I’ll be honest, though. Sometimes I take the four-wheeler.
We have an old four-wheeler that we use only for getting cows from pasture. Everyone in the neighborhood must think it’s broken down or abandoned because it rarely moves from its parking spot adjacent to the pasture. A neighbor boy stopped in to ask if it he could buy it for a fixer-upper project, but I told him, “It still runs. We use it for getting cows.”
I reserve taking the four-wheeler for when the grass is wet after a rain, and I won’t have time to change my soaking wet jeans after fetching the cows.
Sometimes, when the cows scatter instead of bee-lining back to the barn, I wish I had taken the four-wheeler. Mostly, I miss my pasture walk if I take the four-wheeler. Perhaps that’s because of how I was raised. We didn’t have a four-wheeler when I was a kid. We always walked to get the cows. Dad only got a four-wheeler after us kids left for college. I think I tell the kids that every time they walk with me.
Our old four-wheeler is getting a little more use these days. We decided Dan is old enough now to take the four-wheeler to get cows by himself. It’s a job he’s embraced wholeheartedly.
In his words, taking the four-wheeler is way more fun than walking. It’s also a privilege he must be mindful to keep; anything other than the most cautious driving will result in the four-wheeler being parked.
I understand why Dan feels that way. Riding across the pasture is nearly as enjoyable as walking. And driving the four-wheeler is fun in its own right.
I’m a little sad to turn the job over to him, because it means fewer trips to the pasture for me. But it also means Dan has an opportunity to develop his own love for the pasture and getting cows.
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.