My new responsibility

When we got to Spring Arbor, Dad’s dairy herd was reduced to one cow, a Jersey.

Farmers tell me Holstein cows give more milk, but maybe this cow gave enough for our family of seven. And I hear Jersey milk has more butterfat — maybe more like whole milk, say, instead of 2%?

Hold her tail

I liked to run my hands over our cow’s brown coat and lean into her warm hip while I buried my nose in her hair. And I helped milk this Jersey cow. That is, Dad appointed me to hold her tail while he sat on a stool with the top of his head resting in her flank and his hands reaching under to pull her milk down into a pail.

Use two hands

Every morning and every evening, I stood faithfully by her lovely brown bottom, holding her tail in two hands like a bell ringer in a church steeple. I had to hold tight, Dad said, so she could not swish him in the face or dip her tail in the milk.

A position of importance

Since then I’ve looked inside many dairy barns at milking time, yet I’ve never seen anyone holding a cow’s tail. And that, of course, is because they don’t have a highly responsible person of three and a half years whose father assigned him to a position of importance.

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