Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beenut Milk

Our Jersey Cow at the New Hampshire homestead was named Beenut. She was more beautiful than a cow should be...dark blonde with big brown eyelashes.

Here is a gorgeous photo of a Jersey that looks like what I remember.

I can see a jug of her milk, still warm, on the worn counter in the old farmhouse. The cream is separating into a thick band at top. Soon we will start the endless yet rewarding task of churning butter.

But before Beenut there was...Beenut. Now this is a sad little thing to remember as an adult, but as a small child it was quite fascinating.

For one day only we had our first cow named Beenut. Buddy brought her home late one night before he had prepared a place for her in the barn. Mom had spent all the money she had in the world on this cow, $500.00. Considering that we lived on less than that in a year's time, it was pretty shocking to lose her.

There was an uneasy feeling the morning after we got Beenut. The air was crisp and damp as usual, but filled with a deafening silence. The adults hurried around not paying attention to me. I think it was Walt who shouted that the cow had jumped off the bridge. We all ran up the road to look. Down by the creek lay the distorted figure of the first Beenut.

Buddy had staked her in the yard like a dog. He gave her a bucket of water and planned to put her away the next day. For someone who typically had a lion's share of common sense, this was incredibly stupid. The neighbor's horses had gotten loose and scared the poor cow, forcing it into the ravine. I cannot imagine the shock and loss that mom felt.

Our second Beenut was the one I really remember. I sat on her only once to know why people don't ride cows. Mom let me try milking her, but I was just not coordinated or strong enough.

She was a sweet cow that gave delicious milk. Mom loved her.

If Beenut was ready for milking before mom had gotten to her, she would knock on the kitchen door. One time she was found eating the heirloom gladiola bulbs that were wintering in the woodshed. But my favorite story of her is not in my memory at all.

One day mom was left to do all the chores by herself. Running a self sufficient farm alone was an impossibly exhausting task. Mom said there were days that she worked so hard she would have to stop and rest on the spot, or nap in the field to keep from collapsing.

The air was chilly and dusk was threatening. It was time to put Beenut up for the night. She was laying in the grass near the carriage house chewing serenely. It was all mom could do to go over and sit beside her for a rest before the short walk to the barn. She laid her head on Beenut's warm belly. Soon the grass turned forest green, then black as the light faded. Rocked by the rhythm of Beenut's steady breathing, mom fell into the secure and satisfying sleep of a babe in arms.

I cannot tell you why that makes my head swell with tears. I picture my young strong mother with her thick long dark hair asleep with her pretty cow in the grass.

It is something I never had that I want so much to never lose.

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