This is a story about a Jersey heifer that my Paw saved from dying. I hope you will enjoy this story, and every word is true. So without further ado, this story is for you.
Paw was already farming before he married Maw. He milked a few cows and sold cream to make a few extra dollars. Before Paw ever went to school, he was driving a three-horse hitch. Paw farmed on a 247 acre river bottom farm with a big team of Draft horses. That was before tractors came into the picture.
Way back in 1940's, my Paw married my Maw and for a wedding present, Paw's uncle gave to him and Maw three registered Guernsey heifers and a registered Guernsey bull.
Paw and Maw lived on the 247 acre river-bottom farm where they raised three girls and me. My oldest sister was born January 4, 1943 and I got here January 1, 1944. (I was a tax write-off).
Time goes on like it usually does and I was in the first grade, and by the time I was in the third grade, Paw let me get the cows in the barn lot after I got home from school in the evening.
In a few years when Paw and the hired man (the fellow that worked for Paw) were in the fields, I got to do the milking and did so for many years.
Mind you, Paw never was a trader when he needed replacement heifers, he raised his own. Paw had a sharp eye for livestock and what he saw in this poor skinny heifer that looked about ready to die, I will never know.
Maw said to Paw, "Paw, are you nuts?" "Why this poor creature will be dead by morning." Paw said to Maw, "Now Maw, I know what is wrong with this heifer." Maw you go to the house and get a clean rag and I'll take care of the rest."
So Maw went to the house and got a clean rag and when she came back Paw had his part ready. He had a can of molasses, a half of a cud of Browns Mule and a thimble full of whiskey. He wrapped everything in a sock, stuck his fingers in the heifer's nose and the heifer opened her mouth and Paw poked the rag down the heifer's throat and she swallowed it.
Maw said to Paw, "You have killed this poor heifer." "No, I haven't," said Paw, "She will be all right now." The heifer lost her cud and now she has one." In a few minutes the heifer started chewing her cud like her life depended on it.
All at once the heifer took off like a scalded dog. She was running for all she was worth and she made it to the pasture fence and jumped over it. In a few minutes, she settled down and went to picking grass.
In a few weeks, the heifer filled out quite considerably, but she wouldn't let Paw near her. Paw tried real hard to make friends with this heifer.
He affectionately called her Babe. Paw would try to get Old Babe to come in and eat with the other heifers, no siree-bob. This heifer would have nothing to do with Paw.
When I finally got old enough to do the milking in the evenings, I was real proud of myself. I would do the milking in the evening so Paw could plow corn or whatever chore I couldn't help with.
One Saturday morning, the neighbor boy who lived next door came over to the house and said to me, "Willie, do you remember that nanny goat I traded for a while back?" I said, "Yes, I remember her." I asked him if she was the one who had the twin nanny kids. "Yes," my neighbor said. "I weaned the twins and now I have to milk her."
I was late milking the nanny the other evening and to spite me, she got into the yard and ate two of Maw's sheets. "Maw sure was mad and told me I had to get rid of the nanny, but I could keep the two nanny kids, providing the kids stayed out of the yard; so what have you got to trade for my nanny? She is a good milker and I need to get rid of her."
I smiled to myself, Paw had been after me to get rid of a bunch of my bantam chickens that numbered in the 100s. They crapped in the barn, in the tool shed, on the farm machinery. All good bantams have to crap somewhere, so I made a pass at my neighbor; I told my neighbor I would trade him a bunch of my bantams for his nanny goat. My neighbor said it's a trade and to top the trade off, he threw in the milk stand. Maw had a couple of wooden chicken crates, she loaned my neighbor friend so he could get his bantams home. That wasn't a drop in the bucket of all the bantams I had, but at least I got Paw off my back.
The days went by and I got my driver's license and to celebrate me getting my driver's license, Paw let me take a load of fat hogs to the livestock sale. In those days, there were no stock trailers, just pickup trucks with stock racks on them and some of the luckier fellows (the bigger farmers), had a two-ton trucks that could haul bigger loads of cattle and hogs than a pickup.
A pickup with an eight foot bed could haul about eight big fat hogs. When I got to the livestock sale, I unloaded the fat hogs and decided to look around and see what was in the livestock stock pens. In a pen was a poor skinny Jersey bull. You talk about a skinny bull, he was so skinny, that his bones rattled. I felt sorry for this skinny bull and with a little bit of tonic and a good worming from the local livestock veterinarian, I figured I could bring this bull out of it. That is if I could buy this bull worth the money.
You guessed it, I bought the bull worth the money. In fact the bull didn't bring anything. All I had to do was pay for a snort full of tonic and a good worming; the bull and I were headed for home. When I handed Paw the hog check, he said, "Willie, where did you get this skinny bull?" I said, "At the livestock sale, I said proudly." Paw said, "The hog check is all there." Paw, I said, "The auctioneer gave the bull to me because he thought the bull was going to die." All I had to do was pay for the tonic and wormer. I got an idea, Paw, I'll feed the bull goat's milk plus grain and hay.
So I started feeding the Jersey bull goat's milk, grain and hay. In a month or so the bull showed so much improvement, that Paw thought the results were amazing and Paw decided to put the bull through the winter. Later that fall, Paw went to a farm sale and brought home six Jersey heifers.
The heifers weren't old enough to breed, but they would be in late spring; so paw bought these heifers reasonable enough and they were just about the size of the bull. Paw really didn't care too much for Jerseys, but the government predicted the price of milk would go up in a couple of years and they wanted all the dairymen to increase their herds and improve their dairy barns. Paw favored the Guernsey cattle better. But the price at the farm sale was pretty cheap on the Jersey cattle so he decided to take a chance on them. The young Jersey bull had really turned into a beautiful young bull and the heifers were soon big enough to breed including Old Babe.
The bull did his duty as most young bulls do. I want to tell you about one particular bull, especially this Jersey. One morning you could go out and pet the bull and the next morning, the bull would try to kill a person. Never turn your back on a bull, because they can kill you!
One morning Maw and my sisters told Paw to get the big kettle down because it was time to make apple butter. The fire was lit and I started carrying apples where Maw and the girls were stirring apple butter. The bull and heifers were in the orchard and the apple trees had outdone themselves. Paw had put the heifers and the bull in the orchard to eat the grass down before the apples were ripe so things were going along pretty good until apple picking time. The bull and heifers had cleaned up the orchard, but Paw had decided to leave the bull and heifers in the orchard until the apples were picked.
One morning Paw had taken an extension ladder out to the orchard, plus a bucket of feed and fed the heifers and the bull. Then he commenced to pick apples. I was elected to carry apples to the place where Maw and my sisters were cutting and peeling the apples.
Things went along pretty good that is until Paw got tired of being in the apple tree and got down and stretched his legs. While he rested, Paw took a bucket and started picking up the apples that fell from the trees.
The bull had been watching Paw and the first tree was out in the pasture quite a ways away. All at once, Paw heard the bull bellow and the rumbling of the ground because here came the bull. Paw was a good runner in those days and while he was running, he hollered "Open the barn lot gate." I opened the barn lot gate and there went Paw with the bull at his heels.
Paw put the bull in the barn in a box stall where he couldn't get out and commenced to feed the bull for all he was worth. In about a month, Paw sent the bull to the butcher shop and we had fresh beef for a long time.
Winter passed and spring went by without any more incidents until early fall, the Jersey heifers started having their calves. Milk prices were going up pretty well. Old Babe was huge and got bigger. One afternoon, just about milking time, Old Babe turned up missing. In warm weather, the cows would have their calves in the woods pasture and there was where I found Old Babe.
She had a real nice heifer calf. Old Babe didn't want to go to the barn but after a brief battle; she finally gave up, bawled to her calf and started to the barn.
In those days, you put the heifer in a stanchion, put a rope in front of her bag and tightened up on the rope and put the milker on the heifer. Things were going well for Old Babe. She was a little nervous but at least she wasn't kicking. All at once Old Babe gave a kick and kicked me straight in the mouth, kicked the milkers off, busted the rope and out of the barn she went down over the hill and straight for the woods pasture.
I was sure hurting about that time after spitting blood, manure and dirt. I headed for the woods pasture, Old Babe was really carrying the mail running through the woods. The more I ran, the hotter I got and the more my teeth hurt. Finally, I got to the woods pasture and I got in gun-sight of Old Babe. She was thrashing around, bawling and finally I saw the problem, Old Babe had triplets, all heifers. It was rare for a heifer or even and older cow to have triplets. I have heard of a cow having five living calves.
I finally got Old Babe to the barn but she wouldn't calm down. All this time, we didn't know that Old Babe had been raised by a woman which we soon found out. Maw came down to see the new calves and heard Old Babe a carrying on. "What ails that heifer?" Maw went in the barn and she said to Paw, "She will break her fool neck." When Old Babe heard Maw's voice, she settled down right now.
We milked with electric milkers but Old Babe didn't like an electric milker. The pulsators would go click, click and Old Babe didn't like the click, click. Every time Paw tried to put the milkers on Old Babe, she would kick them off. Maw said to Paw, "Give me a milk stool Paw!"
Maw had come from a large family and before she and her sisters and brothers went to school, they had certain cows to milk and these cows were milked by hand. Maw sat the milk bucket between her knees and went to milking Old Babe. That heifer never moved and before long Maw had milked Old Babe clean out.
Maw said to Paw, "Old Babe will be the house cow. We will churn butter, make cottage cheese, and I will milk Old Babe every morning and evening." And Maw did. Every time Old Babe saw Maw, she would come a running and she did that for 16 years. You could almost count on a heifer calf every year from Old Babe.
Imagine how poor Old Babe was when she had three calves. It took five gallons of feed every morning, and evening to feed Old Babe. Paw always put plenty of Blackstrap Molasses in his cow feed, and in a couple of months, Old Babe turned out to be a beautiful heifer.
This escapade happened several years ago, way before I was ever married, (but I won't get into that episode). But next spring, if things go right, Ma and I will be married 50-years. I keep telling Ma, "I have had you so long, you are just like one of the family."