Living in the country and raising a few head of cattle for the purpose of butchering to feed the family is the way of life for the small rancher. A small rancher is of course, someone who doesn’t sell the cattle for profit, but just uses them for a food source. That is what Bob’s family used to do…Bob and I included. This was a new kind of life to me, as I had never been around cows much.
Corrie, Amy, and I would feed the cows in the morning, or at least the girls would come along. If you have never been around cows when someone is bringing in a bucket of grain, I promise you that you do not want to let small children in there. You see the grain to a cow…well, that’s their candy, and you had better move fast and get it into the feeding trough, or you will get run over. They have absolutely no discipline when it comes to grain.
I remember one cow in particular that I had named Rosie, because of her coat. Rosie was a Hereford cow. She loved her grain. She would run along side me to be first in line. One time, she was running and needed to scratch her belly at the same time, so she tried to do both. The result was that she kicked me in the back of the knee. Man…that hurt. She left a quarter sized bump and a huge bruise. The bump was with me for about a year and the bruise actually re-occured off and on. I can still feel her kick. She didn’t mean to do it of course. She was like a little kid and very gentle, but she loved her candy, and anyone in the vicinity of the bucket had better beware. Needless to say, you can see why the girls watched me feed the cows. They did help with the hay though, but that was done from the other side of the fence where they couldn’t get run over.
Butchering the cows…well that is another story. After caring for the cows and even naming them…probably not the best idea, I simply could not stand the thought or the sight of my pets being shot in the head, even though I knew it had to be, and I was ok with eating the meat. So the girls and I stayed in the house…with the TV or radio on fairly loud while the butchering was taking place.
We have long since moved into town, and we do not raise cows anymore, but I look a little differently at the cows we pass on the roads when we travel, because I know a little more about how they act, and what it takes to raise them than I ever imagined I would.