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The Joys and Challenges of Raising Cattle: A Glimpse into Farm Life

A few weeks back, during a visit to the grocery store, a gentleman standing in line behind me inquired if I was Randy Kleindienst’s mother. Confirming his query, he mentioned his affiliation with the Cattlemen’s Association and their recent gathering at Randy’s Band’s musical event hosted at the new 54 Country establishment in Kingdom City.

The association had made prior reservations for the venue even before its construction. Apart from hosting weekly dances, the space would also be available for rental for various occasions.

The pressure to unveil the venue for its inaugural event was immense. Despite Randy and his wife, Christine, dedicating countless hours, including late nights, to the preparations, there was still much to be done.

On the crucial day of the event, various service providers such as plumbers and electricians seemed to converge to complete their tasks. When my husband, David, and I visited in the afternoon, the place was bustling with workers. As the saying goes, Randy and Christine were visibly anxious. However, with prayers and the assistance of friends, they managed to pull it off successfully.

The gentleman and I exchanged a few words, but I opted not to prolong the conversation to avoid delaying the queue. I did mention that we used to rear cows but no longer did. Undoubtedly, there were numerous anecdotes I could have shared, considering he likely had his fair share as well.

Reflecting on the bygone days of my cattle adventures, I reminisced about the time when David and I, along with our sons Daniel, Randy, and Eric, resided in the countryside, caring for an array of farm animals.

Our eldest son, Daniel, embarked on a mission to save up and purchase his own calf. His endeavor led us to acquire a newborn heifer calf from a feed lot for a mere four dollars. The calf, named Moo by Daniel, quickly endeared herself to the family, becoming a cherished pet. She thrived on the bottle milk Daniel fed her, often lounging in the yard akin to a dog. Moo’s docile nature prompted thoughts of allowing her indoors, had we been so inclined.

Moo’s seamless integration into our family prompted the boys to acquire additional calves—a Holstein and a Jersey, intended for milking. These new additions, much like Moo, evolved into beloved pets. Subsequently, we expanded our bovine family by procuring more calves from local dairies, culminating in a total of six endearing pets.

The boys diligently bottle-fed each calf, ensuring their well-being. Accustomed to our abode, the calves grazed within the confines of our yard, a sight that amused visitors who were playfully cautioned against stepping into the “lawn mower tracks.”

With the calves thriving under our care, we ventured to purchase a truckload from Wisconsin, a decision met with excitement albeit tempered by practical considerations such as erecting a sturdy fence and addressing potential health issues. The arrival of the calves, initially robust and vibrant, revealed the toll of the journey on their health.

Transitioning from a primarily domestic role to one involving animal care, I found myself administering medications and learning to tend to sick calves. Despite engaging the services of Dr. Bob Barnett on multiple occasions, we encountered challenges, particularly concerning the calves’ susceptibility to illnesses.

A poignant moment arose when Randy discovered his ailing Jersey calf, a heart-wrenching sight that culminated in her passing. The emotional bond forged since acquiring her as a three-day-old calf made her loss profoundly felt, especially as she neared breeding age.

Navigating through the trials and tribulations, the boys diligently raised their calves, eventually rearing them into productive milk cows. Their daily routine included early morning and evening milking sessions before and after school, a laborious yet rewarding endeavor that instilled in them a strong work ethic.

The nostalgia of those days spent milking cows, filling gallon glass jars with cream-topped milk, and supplying loyal customers with fresh dairy products evokes a sense of cherished simplicity. Despite occasional challenges like cows consuming wild onions, affecting the milk’s flavor, our customers remained understanding, attributing it to a seasonal occurrence.

A heartwarming anecdote involves our youngest son’s narrow escape from a potentially perilous encounter with a formidable Black Angus bull. Thanks to the swift intervention of his brother, a crisis was averted, underscoring the protective bond and quick thinking within the family.

While reminiscing about my experiences with cows, including comical incidents like attempting to halt a charging bull with a mere stick, I acknowledge the profound impact those moments had on shaping enduring memories. The joys and challenges of farm life not only impart valuable lessons but also instill a deep appreciation for hard work and resilience, traits that resonate through generations.