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A Jersey Cow Morning

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kismet: when everything falls into place and the universe seems to align in front of you. On my last morning in Yellow Springs, Ohio, I drove north up Route 68, passing Young's Jersey Dairy for the last time. You saw what happened there in my previous post. Slurp, slurp. Ice cream for breakfast.

As I approached the dairy, a big door opened in the milking barn and the girls poured out, fresh from their morning milking relief. (Young's milks their cows twice a day).

My dad grew up on a farm not far from Thornton, Iowa. Here's the old barn where he grew up.
Their cows were Jerseys. For him, and for me, no other milk cow compares. They produce milk with among the highest butterfat of all--Guernseys are right up there, too. Not only that, but they are exceedingly pleasant in temperament.

And they are beautiful, deerlike, airbrushed in shades of buttercream tan, with black or white points. These little gals are all tarted up like they're going to the fair--see those shaved polls and spines? They're show cows, because they're on display every day right where the ice cream and cheese made from their wonderful milk is sold.

The girls were curious about me, this woman who spoke so kindly to them and seemed so glad to stop and talk with them. I wanted to hear about their lives, and they told me with their eyes, their demeanor, and their shining coats that they had good ones.

Sweet breath huffing...

Just before her tongue lashed out for the lens.

The girls gathered under a couple of maples, enjoying the deep shade on the already-hot morning. This makes for a difficult photographic situation--your subject in deep shadow; the background brightly sunlit, but the Canon G-11 was more than up to the challenge. It picked up background colors in Landscape mode that my Rebel couldn't have. This is probably the most difficult light regime you could select, and I was impressed with its performance. I juiced the photos up just a bit in post-production, but the point is the camera caught some color in that blindingly bright and contrasting landscape, and that is something to remark upon. And it is nothing my Digital Rebel TSi could do. The G-11 continues to amaze me.

They set about replenishing the milk factory.

The gentle sound of tearing grass.

One of them had such a huge udder that I thought she must've been skipped in the milking. She had to sort of walk around it. So I looked around inside and spotted one of the employees who looked like she probably works with the cattle (in contrast to the dewy teens working most everywhere else). She told me that the older cows get enormous bags that don't shrink down after milking. Oh, that made me feel better.

A Jersey's productive milking life can be 13-14 years--much longer than a Holstein's.

It's not a bad life for a cow, all things considered. I can't say I'd want a huge milk-producing organ hanging down between my hinders, but I suppose you get used to anything.

Still, the grass outside the fence is always greener, even for a contented cow.

You beautiful little thing. Look at your eyes, your caramel hair.

Here ends our little trip to Young's Jersey Dairy, Yellow Springs, Ohio. If you visit, order black walnut ice cream for me, for Dad, and for you!


What a fantastic post! After reading Foer's book "Eating Animals" and learning about the horrid conditions created by factory farms, it's so nice to see that some cows have comfortable lives.

I can't pick a favorite picture!

I married into a family of dairy farmers who had gorgeous registered Holsteins. They were happy to commune over the fence with you, especially if you were bearing treats (peapods or the husks from fresh corn). I must say though, you can't beat a Jersey for glamour girl eyes and a ladylike demeanor.
By the way, ice cream for breakfast sounds just fine to me, I'll join you for black walnut, even better, maple walnut.

"Woke up it was a Jersey Cow morning and the first thing that I heard..."

That second to the last photo almost looks like a little baby hippo!

It makes my heart fill with joy to see dairy cows actually walking outside to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and grass. That thought in itself is a very sad testament to the vast majority of factory dairy farms.

I can't pick a fave picture either lol! Really enjoyed your post.

There's no more wonderfully contented sound than that of tearing grass.
We used to have neighbors whose cattle grazed just inches from our mailbox--meaning just off our front yard. We could hear them through the bedroom window on a moonlit night or still hidden in the mist of an early summer morning. They're gone now, but I would recognize the sound immediately.
Thank you for a memory jog.

Oh my first visit to your blog has been such a memorable one. May I return?

It is 3:56 AM and my husband's snoring kept me awake, so I'm blogging. I'll now head back to bed with dreams of very, very clean cows with great soulful brown eyes and lashes to die for.


They're pretty ladies, soft and smooth. Your photos with the G-11 are noticably sharper and more colorful. Your Rebel photos were subdued in comparison. That one close-up was so good I could have counted her whiskers.

Those eyes are what gets you. Jerseys remind me of the cows we saw in Bali that are used as working cows in the rice fields. Maybe they're really oxen but they are still cows to me. Their cinnamon cot is kind of jazzed up Jersey. I so loved them I had to paint them:
Just thought I'd share with everyone!

Oh, a serious case of nostalgia for black walnut ice cream is developing here. REAL black walnut ice cream....ummm !

Hi, Julie! I'm a lurker, but I'm glad you found Young's when you were in the area. I live about 5 miles south on 68 and sometimes have to fight with myself not to head up for some ice cream. Lovely cows, aren't they?

Posted by Michelle August 27, 2010 at 6:36 PM

What a wonderful post. One of those with such perfect photographs and perfect words it puts you right there along with those beautiful animals.

What beautiful photos of the gorgeous Jerseys! They are heart-warming and the one with the open mouth, ready to lick your camera, made me laugh. Your posts are like rays of light beaming joy into our lives, once again proving the best things in life are free! Come back soon Julie! Partridge peas are sprouting up all over the meadow.

I am imagining the smell, just from the pictures. I love a farm smell, a barn smell. Fresh hay, fresh grass, and fresh manure! I can experience this with back-bred merino sheep, cows and draft horses where I work at Greenfield Village!

They're so beautiful. I loved seeing them up close during our recent state fair visit. Did you find out why they slip all their hair off for showing though? I like those long wavy bangs!

Why do the cows look so boney? They look like they are starving!

They look that way because they're dairy cows, not beef cattle. It's normal for pelvis and ribs to show in dairy cows. They're putting all their fat into their milk--a prodigious amount of it, in fact--and not padding their ribs with it the way a beef cow would. Those are perfect specimens of Jerseys, no worries there.

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