Saturday, May 7, 2011

Behind the Scenes on Old MacDonald's Farm

"Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
And on that farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O.
With a moo-moo here and a moo-moo there,
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo-moo.
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O."

That song sounds so innocent.  I have to wonder how many city kids think that is about all there is to a farm--a few cows grazing contentedly with occasional moo's here and there.  Perhaps a little milk would squirt into a metal bucket like it shows in all the kids' books.  (I once read my grandkids a cow story in which the cow was referred to as "he," but that's another subject altogether.)  We farmers bemoan the sad truth that many, many children grow up without ever knowing what really happens on a farm.

For this reason, Pa-pa and I will use a gorgeous spring day like today to haul Sooby and Pooh around on the John Deere Gator (City people: this is NOT a reptile; it is a four-wheeler with a bed.) and experience a herd of cows up close and personal.  By "up close," I mean parking the Gator in the middle of a Charolais mob and hearing the moo's in Surround-Sound.  By "personal," I mean that the kids sometimes go away with brownish-green stuff on their shoes.  (Sorry--farming is not for the faint of heart.  Stop reading now if you are experiencing nausea or dizziness.)

Most likely, you will not be surprised to learn that the kids love seeing the baby calves run and frolic through the tall clover.  This, after all, is the stereotypical "Awwww!" experience that you would anticipate.  As a society we have been conditioned to expect children to love baby animals, and they do not disappoint.

What you might not expect is the turn the conversation takes as the four of us sit there, contemplating the nuances of bovine life in the animals' natural surroundings.  Indeed, the conversation is dominated by frequent references to body parts and bodily functions as the kids watch and listen to the goings-on of the herd from this prime vantage point.

I will not be so blunt as to repeat all the exact words here.  Suffice it to say that, among other choice and quite accurate vocabulary, you often hear active verbs like splash, plop, squirt, and splat as the kids describe what they see.  Further, each "event" is a new cause for nearly insurmountable excitement.  If enough cows come to the party, there is sufficient entertainment to last the kids the better part of an hour.  It seems there is always some splashing or plopping going on somewhere.  Added to this is the fact that the calves have to eat, and that evokes a whole new set of words, along with some rather unflattering comparisons to the kids' mother and their baby sister.  For the purpose of family tranquillity, Pa-pa and I have made a pact: what is said in the pasture stays in the pasture.

Hopefully, today's Gator tour was only the first of many to follow as spring warms its way into summer, and summer mellows into fall.  The fact that both kids have enriched their vocabularies over the winter makes these trips all the more fun to anticipate.  Meanwhile, I will smile to myself every time we sing the cow verse of "Old MacDonald."  As for Sooby and Pooh, they will grow up knowing things many of their little friends may never learn about the secret life of cows.

1 comment:

  1. I learned about the birth process by seeing one of my grandpa's sow's give birth. It was a little unsettling, but I've never been sorry for the experience.