Friday, May 29, 2015

Inside Out: What Are Dairy Cows Thinking

The new Pixar movie Inside Out is coming soon and I know my family is looking forward to going to see it.

It imagines our emotions being characters in our heads and how they interact. My first thoughts on dairy cows is that there must be a couple in their heads that do nothing but watch and wait for me to get close to the cow's rear end.

"Is The Farmer in range?"

"He's not in the full splatter zone. Wait!"

"Is he there yet?"

"Getting closer!"



And that's when they press the "go potty" button and my t-shirt and jeans get an instant brown tie-dyed look.

Maybe we can't actually get a view of a cow's brain or have a conversation with her about her feelings, but we can watch her because actions really do speak louder than words. As I write this our cows are all laying in the pasture after the morning milking. Full, content cows taking a nap is a good sign. Most are chewing their cud and simply resting.

Cows At Rest
As it gets closer to lunch I know they are hungry because they will be lining up at the gate to come in to eat.

There are many things that can frighten the girls from loud noises or "funny" smells (cows have a keen sense of smell) to visitors to the farm. When those incidences occur the cows will often put their noses in the air and raise their ears to figure out what's going on. If they feel threatened they will run. Cow care and cow comfort, therefore, are a top priority on any farm.

Happy, content cows eat and milk well. When cows refuse to eat, go down in milk, or don't go in to be milked at their regular spot in line then we also know something is wrong. Paying attention to the cows and how they act with others and during their normal daily routine is very important if we want to know what they are thinking and therefore how they feel.

Maybe cows can't verbalize it, but how they act is as good as speaking. Of course, there may be good reasons for cows not talking. Dairy cows have been know to be a little sassy!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Super Powered Cows

Should cows have super powers? If they had them would they use them for good or evil?

We had three heifers answer those questions this winter on our farm. They had the ability to jump fences in a single bound. Their leader, who we'll refer to as Zod, would challenge them to leap the fence from their pasture into the adjoining field of ryegrass. Thus the question of "is the grass always greener on the other side" answered. At least for them.

Like the three Kryptonians Superman faced in Superman II and the Man of Steel, these superpowered cows did not use their abilities for the greater good. Eventually we caught them and two saw the error of their ways and pledged to only use their powers for good. Zod, however, did not calm down, nor did she make any agreements.

So we exiled her to the phantom zone.

Ok, so technically we didn't send her into a flying square rotating in space, We did send her to be sold at the stockyard. It was disappointing to see a nice animal leave, but if she could not abide by the rules then she could not stay. Even if she had super powers!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Life Imitates John Steele

Some days I feel as if life is imitating art, instead of the other way around. In my rural detective story, No Signal, John Steele has a hard time solving cases without a good cell phone signal.

I can so relate.

The joys of rural life are plenty: quiet, less traffic, less people, more nature, etc. On the other hand, the tech savvy are usually two, three, or more steps behind their urban counterparts. For example until DSL came to our area we had to invest in satellite internet which my in-laws constantly reminded me was not really high speed compared to their cable internet.

When my wife and I moved, basically across the street, last year AT&T informed us we had moved nodes and switched us from our 2.6mbps stream to .765mbps. OMG. (And I'll try not to use that phrase again. Ever.) That was not even enough to check Gmail with.

There's a sad story about repeaters and boosters that I won't repeat here to get us a little faster.

In the meantime I'm getting closer to the end of the next book, Lucky Spaces. Here's a sneak peak:

“I am so sorry, sir,” she began, “there are rules that we can’t give out personal information like that. I--”

I cut her off quickly as inspiration struck. “Ma’am, let me put the reverend on, maybe you’ll feel more comfortable talking to him. Here’s Reverend McCollister.” And I handed the cell phone over to Gramps. 

At first he tried to refuse it, but I kept thrusting it in his face and mouthed, “Do it! Come on!” 

What would you do to solve a case? There's very little that John Steele wouldn't do. Especially if he can find a good signal.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Donut Drive Through On The Farm

Time To Fetch The Cows

By four a.m. each morning I am driving out to the pasture making sure all the cows have come in to be milked. Yes, I did say four a.m.!

Today I was thinking as I drove the tractor down the lane that what I, we, really need is a drive through Dunkin' Donuts at the end of the lane.

Dunkin Donuts shop

Time To Make The Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts - Sunday Morning Coffee RunIt would be nice to grab one of those chocolate coffees and a cream filled donuts, the white kind and not the yellow or the chocolate cream is a dream. Yes, there is a recurring theme of chocolate in my life. Life I think would be perfect. Getting up in the morning would be a joy.

Of course, there could be downsides. I can imagine a long line of cows waiting to get their caffeine fix before being milked. I'd have to hurry them up and then without their mochas and frappes they might get irritable. Then what if the field man from our dairy cooperative came to see us because of high concentrations of caffeine in the milk supply. Could we be fined for that?

 Or maybe.... this could be a new market for milk sort of like that cool, new Fairlife milk. We could market caffeinated milk with all the health benefits of milk and without the chance of darkening your teeth like coffee can.


Then there would be my new habit of getting a coffee and donut everyday. Every morning I'd have to get my fix and leave the nice barista/donut-baker a tip. After a while I'd have to have it. My wife might want to know where our money's going. Then there's the problem with the daily donuts and fat, cholesterol, and obesity. 

After careful consideration I think not having a Dunkin' Donuts on the farm is okay, and so is the occasional trip to town.

Dunkin' Donuts photo: By Anthony92931 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Donuts photo by Qfamily