Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Dude, you guys, cows are stinky
Dairy farms are weird. In one barn are stalls and stalls and shit-splattered stalls of baby calves-- some less than 24-hours old-- and in another barn are their mothers, standing as still as their swollen, ballooning udders will allow. Farmers feed the calves with outsize baby bottles, and cows are hooked up to giant (shit-splattered) pumps. Luckily I didn't have to ponder the irony of all those baby cows fed artificially while their mothers' milk is shipped off to feed human babies artificially because all the milk on this farm becomes mozzarella cheese. Mmmmm, cheese.
I have never considered myself an animal rights activist by an means (I even like lamb! and veal! and I'm sure I would dig other soft, fat little baby animals. oh! and foie gras is delish, screw the geese!), but the farm tour I took with Harry's class yesterday made me rethink our relationship to animals. When the farmer told the kids about things like tagging the cows with giant "earrings" and cauterizing their horns with something "that looks like a big cigarette lighter," the children were horrified, and the farmer explained that ultimately, these practices-- like immediately separating moms and babies-- were best for the animals. Really, though, she meant that they were best for the farm, for the industry, for us.
At snack time in the farmhands' lunchroom, Harry ate 5 pieces of string cheese.
The cow in the above picture is 3 days old and pretty wobbly.
This little calf was born yesterday
Harry was leading these little boys on a path of mischief that ended with him falling in a slimy trough of cow shit run-off. COW SHIT. He fell in it. Before the field trip, I swore that if either of us encountered cow shit, I was calling a taxi to take us home. Instead, I rolled up his pants-leg and tried not to stand down wind. I almost puked in my mouth in the milking barn, when Harry kept resting his head against the shit-splattered side of the raised milking platform. Why was everything covered in shit? WHYYYYYYYYYYY?
Adorably, Harry was scared of the cows' soft, fat tongues, and he kept dropping his hay all over the (shit-splattered) barn floor. Then I would say "Heeeeeey," and no one would laugh. This happened at least 16 times.
According to family legend, when I was a toddler and preschooler, the only way I could deal with the stench of a petting zoo was to bravely clutch a Chanel No.5-soaked tissue to my nose as I waded through the goats and pigs and chickens. Clearly, I was a natural choice to chaperon a cow field trip.
I went to my office in the afternoon and stayed until after the kids were in bed because I am still not done with my summer class (and may not be even after today). Also because I suck as a person and missed the cuteness that is tee-ball.
Ben took lots of pics.
When I saw this picture of Harry playing in the dirt, Ben told me that the coach said Harry needs to be allowed to get dirtier, so that the dirt won't fascinate him as much. Whatever, I told Ben. I bet all the kids were playing in the dirt. Look at the next picture, he told me.
I still think he's playing in the dirt because he is 3 turning 4 and all the other kids are 5 turning 6 (Harry is on the very young end of the 3-5 spectrum on this team), not because he has a fastidious mother. Also, tee-ball coach, he rolled in cow shit yesterday-- is that not dirty enough for you?