For a long time now I have been coveting a cow. When you live in the country you do not stop wanting things. You may have moved here in part to keep your kids out of malls every Saturday, and you might be quite proud of the reduced consumerism of your family since the move, but it doesn’t stop you or any of the others from wanting things. It merely changes what you want. I see cows and so that’s what I want. Eli, likewise a country kid now, sees dirt bikes, and kids on four wheel things racing around the woods, and so he wants one of those. John, my sweet sensitive poet husband, unaccountably wants a truck. Nevermind that he doesn’t load things, or carry them. He sees trucks, knows all the local guys by their trucks, and by God he wants a truck. He is currently convincing himself that since we have chickens, a truck is actually required. After all a couple of times a year we need straw and it always makes a mess in the back of our car, but a truck…Maybe a turquoise truck, he is after all still a poet.
Me, I see these beautiful cows munching along the sides of the roads. They are lovely ladies really. There is an elegance and a quiet peaceful feeling about a cow. A wonderful young hippie couple have opened a boutique dairy just up the road and we go there now for our milk. It tastes as sweet as ice cream, and I don’t think I could ever of back to its watery store bought cousins. We get a gallon or so every week, and one half gallon we always let sit for a day or two so we can scrape the cream off the top for our coffee. There are few more romantic things than scraping your own cream off the top of your jar of milk, and swirling it into a cup of hot strong coffee which you carry out to the yard with you when you let the chickens out in the morning. It feels like a waking dream.
Now we don’t actually have room for a cow. We only have about two and a half acres and most of that is taken up with the house, and the chicken house, and lots of trees next to wild, almost, gardens. But this does not stop me from fantasizing about getting one. Or maybe I could share one with somebody who has more land. What I really want is a kitchen cow. These sustained pioneer families, and though cows are pack animals, some breeds are more easily acclimated to living in a one cow family. I think our cow would be perfectly content with our three dogs, Stuart, Eloise, and Pippi, the 10 chickens, Mabel Madge, Minnie, Edith, (you get the idea), and Zoe the cat. Plus all of the humans would interact with this fantasy cow. We and our critters are outside a lot during these warmer months. She’d have plenty of company, and since we have these keen old fashioned kitchen windows which open out, there would be a perfect place for her to dip her head in for a scratch and a carrot.
But alas there isn’t room for a barn. And the winters up here are hard. Cows need either a warming herd and a sturdy lean-to, or like our chickens, a cozy heated barn with cute flowerboxes outside its windows. (My idea of farming was decidedly city magazine influenced)
There are goats. They are surely cute and many of them produce wonderful rich milk. But goats can get out of anything humans build to keep them in, and I do not fancy chasing goats throughout my middle age. Neither do I appreciate the reliable, but ugly pens, that the real goat farmers use. And my little picket fences would be like a happy habitrail to any goat worth her salt.
But it is spring and the babies are being born. I have gone admittedly rather batty over animals since moving up here. I know this. But knowing it and helping it are two very different things. I simply cannot help it. I wonder if we could attach a little barn to our chicken house, more of an extension really, and they could share the space. I have no need or impulse for 100 pairs of shiny strappy sandals, but a cow. Oh a cow.
Maybe just a very little one. I’d like tol call her Tallulah….or maybe Lulu for short…