It’s my job to clean the cow yard. The narrow wooden slab is home to my tiny Holstein herd and one Disney Dalmatian, because every farm needs a cow dog. Occasionally I free their tiny plastic or ceramic hooves and china doggie hindquarters from the dusty buildup.
I collected my first diminutive cow in 1985. The smiling, reclining, ceramic bovine was a door prize at a farm women’s meeting I attended as a young agriculture news reporter. Next was a set of Holstein salt and pepper shakers that I received as a wedding gift from my younger sister. Another Holstein salt and pepper shaker set was a Christmas gift from my husband’s aunt. Various rubbery and plastic cows joined the herd from my children’s farming play sets. My herd numbers are regulated by the dimensions of the kitchen shelf, my little wooden cow yard.
I grew up with Holsteins on my family’s Wisconsin dairy farm, thus my predilection for black and white bovines. The artwork in my kitchen celebrates all the dairy breeds, but to me, nothing says cow like a Holstein.
I wasn’t all that fond of the real thing when I was growing up. Some of the cows scared me, in particular, one mean mother named Mountain. I never was very adept at milking cows, so I usually was armed with a wet paper towel to wash their teats and udders as my dad followed with the milking machine. But I enjoy my little cow herd nonetheless. They’re a miniature reminder of my heritage as a farm kid, and a lot less work than the full-size models.