Raising my son on a dairy farm is precisely the lifestyle that I want him to have growing up. Helping the feed all the animals, leading his own calf, playing in the mud – it’s all part of the experience.
But last night my 16-month-old had his fearless attitude on full display. He’s 100 percent boy!
And it’s hard for me to be angry with him because I was exactly the same way before he was born. But now my mom gene has kicked in.
Unlike a lot of farmers, we don’t have a mess of cats running around and we keep it that way on purpose. There are two toms that come around periodically, one female, her older male kitten and her two, new younger kittens.
The oldest kitten is my son’s favorite and the cat knows it. My son carries the cat around by grabbing two handfuls of hair and the cat could care less.
The two younger kittens are just starting to roam around the barn and become playful. The last few times I’ve tried to pet them, the mom cat scratches my legs and bites at my hand. But when my son tired to pet them last night, she just sat back and let him “pet” in his own not-so-gentle fashion. My heart was beating furiously, worrying about the mom cat attacking my little man.
While it may be scary for me, he has to learn in the same way I did, by doing.
With the county fair quickly approaching, my mom and I were attempting to lead some heifers in the sweltering heat at 8 p.m. While none of our animals is wild, the red heifer I was walking wasn’t having her most behaved evening – what I call one of her temperamental teen days.
Although my son generally knows to stay away from the cows while we’re walking them, last night wasn’t his most behaved night either. He just wanted to walk right up to this big heifer – basically able to walk clean under her belly – and “pet.” The heifer wasn’t so thrilled and I was petrified that my little man was going to get kicked.
But Gramps intervened, distracting my son with his favorite new task of bottle-feeding the newest Jersey calf.
It’s especially hard for my son to understand that when the cows are out for a walk, he can’t pet and play with them as easily as he does when they’re in the pen. He’ll climb the gates so he’s at eye-level with them, let the animals put his arm in their mouth, giggle when he gets his face licked.
He’s just a little boy who’s the happiest kid on earth when he’s dirty and in the company of his cats and cows – the dog’s pretty cool too when he decides he wants to play.