I spent some time this morning in the research lab (also known as the folks’ kitchen) doing an extensive, in-depth study on raising cattle in southern Wisconsin. My panel of experts included my farmer brother, my farrier brother, my dad and mom, and an uncle who has trained harness race horses all his life. Over eggs and coffee, after solving the troubles of the current thirty-six upcoming GOP presidential candidates, and dishing on Donald Trump’s ridiculous hair style, I asked the panel a few questions about cattle.
Some of my readers may remember that my sister had four head of cattle. I spent two summers raking the mowed grass, and carrying it by hand and rake to toss over the fence for two ungrateful steers and the two heifers. The first summer my sister had her cattle, the littlest one escaped under the fence. We chased that guy all over the yard, pasture, and into the neighbor’s cornfield. We spent a Saturday afternoon building a fence, and reinforcing the lower strands of the existing fence by stringing more barbed wire.
Her cattle were Scottish Highlanders. They are a small and sturdy type with horns and a forelock that flops down over their eyes. They are good beef cattle, and they can stand the harsh winters. They are smallish, so they take up little space. Those who raise them can have as few as two or as many as a herd. If they are registered, their names all begin with one letter of the alphabet for the year they were born. My sister’s were called Hooper, Hannah, Hollister, and Helga.
All cattle are a lot of work, and I only contributed mildly during the limited times I visited. On the other hand, my sister and brother fed twice daily for almost three years. They made sure the cattle were watered. In the winters, my sister would rug up in her Fargo hat, Nordic boots, and puff coat, and haul the hose from the inside bathroom, water, wind up the hose, and bring it back in. The hose would freeze if left outside or even in the garage. There were tank heaters to keep the cattle’s
drinking water from freezing. They forked hay into piles, hauled hay from the storage barns, and supplemented with grain, as the “H’s” grew.
When they got tired of the work, they sent them to the butcher. The cattle went in twos, Hooper and Hannah first as they were the most obnoxious. Helga and Hollister went later.
I miss the activity of the cattle. I miss their greetings, their neediness, and just seeing them galump from one pasture to another. Last week, I got to visit with Hooper and Hannah at my niece’s, and then at my sister’s. They sure tasted good.