Small farm saves milking cow, imagines idyllic relationship


Keeping the Farm chronicles in a delightful manner how getting Thistle, a milking cow, didn’t turn out exactly as planned.

Like so many other prospective cow owners, I imagined that perfect relationship with an affectionate, motherly cow who wanted nothing more than to nourish me and my family like so many well-loved calves.

What I got was a 1,400-lb. bundle of beef, bone, and brains who tolerates me with the cool politeness usually reserved for overbearing mother-in-laws who insist on showing up for lengthy visits without calling first. (“Oh, it’s you. Again. How… nice.”) She looks forward to milking time the way city office workers look forward to Monday-morning rush-hour commutes—as a tedious impediment to her getting on with the rest of her day. Far from being grateful for the relief I provide when I milk her, she rolls her eyes, sighs dramatically, and makes a great point of letting me know what an EFFORT it is not to fidget, and am I not done YET?


  1. Having grown up ranching, I can’t help but admire the over-confidence of those who decide to ranch/farm based on what they read online or offline. They need to start small, progress slowly and make friends of the people who’ve been doing it for generations – and have something to contribute to those neighbors. .

    • She and her husband have been farming for nine years now, so it sounds like they’ll make it. Yes, ranching and farming is nonstop with way specialized knowledge needed.

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