Some years crops were nonproductive, and we survived because of livestock. Over the years Dad concluded those acres weren’t meant for cropland. He wised up and seeded all the land that wasn’t already pasture. Cattle grazed on varied grasses from early spring to first winter snow.
During a wet spring the brome hit full-grown cattle to their bellies. On a dry August day cracks appeared in the native grass pasture between tufts of yucca, sage, and tumbleweeds, where the prairie flowers were only a memory.
We pastured stock cattle as well, white-faced with black or red bodies. The males (steers) were castrated and usually sent to market as yearlings. Some females (called “heifers”) were put in with the Black Angus bull for calving in the spring. A heifer became a “cow” the second time she gave birth.
Calves were dehorned, vaccinated, and castrated; fed and sold at the discretion of the farmer. If cows and their calves didn’t take to one another, or something happened to the cow, calves had to be nursed along. We kids fed the calf by first letting it suck on a finger, then tricked it into going for the false teat on a calf bucket, which held another cow’s milk.
All cattle are not cows. To me a cow is a Holstein (that’s black and white), with a ponderous bag stretched pink with bulging veins and ready to pop its milk. My brother can relate how many cows were milked when and his age at those times.
I have saved an old triangular milk stool, a calf bucket, and a pair of “kickers” that hobbled nasty cows so we wouldn’t get hurt.