The Runaway Cow and the Crazy Gringa

Originally written on March 23, 2012

one year old Danny stuffed inside a “Leche Gloria” milk box

When Danny was a little over a year old, Ade thought it would be “nice” to bring our cow down from the family farm to graze in the empty lot next to our house, providing fresh milk for our little guy each day. Not realizing all that this entailed, and having visions of cream for my coffee with enough extra for ice cream once a week, I agreed.

First surprise: the cow came with a calf (very cute!) that had to be separated from his mom each night if we wanted milk.

Second surprise: someone had to milk the cow by hand. OK, I already knew this part, but I romantically imagined that it would be easy to do! However, not being a dairy breed, the cow did NOT have a nice, big, easy-to-milk udder. I never did get the hang of it.

Third surprise: almost as soon as the cow arrived at the empty lot next to our house in town, my husband had a series of trips taking him away from town for a month.

Fourth surprise: the cow ate up all of the grass in the empty lot within a week, so I had to start buying her alfalfa and corn husks. This is generally something that women buy only by the armful for their guinea pigs, so everyone seemed to be quite amused watching the “gringa” (me) buying HUGE loads of alfalfa every day. They must have thought that I was running an entire guinea pig farm!

Ma loved Danny, and was more than happy to milk the cow for him!

I was very happy when my mother in law, who lives in our town, but who had spent most of her life on the farm, decided to take over the milking chores. She enjoyed it, and was actually able to get a small bucket of milk out of the cow every day.

However, things started getting out of control when I had to separate the cow and the calf each night, bringing the calf back to our yard and leaving the cow tied up in the empty lot. After the first couple of times, the cow figured out that I wasn’t as “in control” as I looked, and since she didn’t want some gringa taking away her baby, she took matters into her own control. For the next week, the cow and I put on a nightly show of her escaping down the city street, with me running crazily behind. My kind neighbor from the hardware store would catch her and calmly tie her up, then help me shut the calf up in our yard… hoping that the scene would not be repeated the next morning.

By the time Ade returned at the end of the month, everyone in the neighborhood knew me (or at least knew who I was!), the alfalfa sellers knew me, I was spending more money on alfalfa than I had been spending on milk before we got the cow, there was just enough milk for drinking with none left over for ice cream, and there was NO cream for coffee!

I told Ade that I was done with the cow – send her back to the farm as soon as possible, PLEASE!

Since the cow and calf went back to their happy home on the farm right away, Ade never really learned how difficult it was to milk a scrawny mountain cow, or how embarrassing to be seen chasing her down the street every night. Our son managed to grow through his toddler years just fine by drinking boxed milk. Our yard returned to its peaceful state and the grass re-grew in the empty lot next door. But I did notice the cow glancing at me with a look of superiority in her eyes the next time we went to the farm!

This picture was taken in 2020, not at the time the story was written. “Baby” Danny is on the far left, talking to Luis, with several other members of the Yanac family checking out our current herd of cows.

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