Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why Mattie Loves Steve more than me....

I am trying hard not to take Mattie's preference for Steve personally. She is my cow, or so I thought. I carefully saved up my extra grocery money (money saved from growing things in the garden) and then researched exactly what kind of cow I wanted.

Lots of time on the internet, and on my farmer/biodynamic lists made me know that I wanted an A2 cow, as opposed to an A1 cow. Milk from A2 cows is far less prone to cause milk allergies in folks (and people in my family are proned to allergies). I wanted a heritage breed with a sweet temperament. I wanted a cow that had been handled and loved and didn't need taming. I wanted a big cow that gave a lot of milk. I wanted a cow that I could fall in love with. And I wanted a cow that would fall in love with me too.

Mattie is a former 4-H cow, who follows without a lead rope (at least for some people--like Steve) and is sweet as can be. She's a full-blood Guernsey so she gives LOTS of extra nutritious milk. (Guernsey milk has more vitamin A than other milk, so much so it is even tinted a bit yellow!) Guernsey's used to be common but are now rare (filling my heritage breed desire) and are almost always A2. So it seems I got almost everything I wanted in Mattie but the problem is that Mattie LOVES Steve. Honestly, this isn't much of a problem if she would only love me too. But she clearly prefers Steve. She much prefers when Steve milks her, feeds her and handles her. I am so the hired help.

I mean take milking for an example. For me, she stomps and kicks and gives a little bit of milk. For Steve, she might kick a bit to start but then settles right down and gives a LOT of milk (unless I walk in the barn and she starts kicking again.) She lets Steve handle her and is much more fussy towards me. She likes me well enough from the other side of the stall door giving her hay but the second I walk into the stall she much prefers Steve. Two people commenting on her interactions with the lot of us have suggested that she's jealous of me and wants Steve all to herself. Sorry girl, I got him first.

I got to thinking about it though and maybe it makes sense that she likes Steve better. Mattie was raised from a calf by a teenage boy who wanted her to be the best 4-H cow he ever had. His brother just had a cow go all the way to the National cow fair in Madison, Wisconsin. Mattie was related to this cow, so he had reason for his high hopes for her.

All her life before she came to us, Mattie was loved, and fed and brushed and trained by a boy who wanted her to be the most beautiful cow at the fair. And you KNOW how devoted a teenage boy can be to the one he loves. Everyday, he worked with her, talked to her, cared for her. And his mom Vicki (the woman I bought Mattie from) cared for her other cows in the background. Then the boy went away to college and left Mattie behind. Mom took over her care. She was kind but she was busy and she wasn't Mattie's boy.

Then suddenly Mattie and her little calf Moose are on a truck being away hauled to a new place without all the cows she had lived her whole life with. So now she's lost her home, her friends AND her boy. Life kind of sucks, even if the new folks are nice.

She gets out of the trailer and meets me. But unfortunately, ever so human things have caused the boy's mom to be hours late delivering Mattie and suddenly everything is a rush. This meant I didn't have the first few hours to properly welcome her and help her settle in. Instead, we lead her in the barnyard with Brigid and Gilly and then we all rush away. By the time I came back she looked a little dazed. New place, no friends and the new cows had horns.

Mattie didn't like that. In fact, she refused to eat (Guernsey's are like that.) And so we had to give her her own pasture and she isn't part of a herd. Cows love to be with their friends.

It took us a couple of weeks to figure out the best arrangement for all of this. So each day, Mattie and I negociated change after change while Steve was the steady one who came each night late and gave her an extra flake of hay and a nice scratch on the head. No wonder she likes him better. On some level, he has to remind her of her devoted boy.

So when it came down to milking and you were Mattie, who would you choose for your favorite? Good ole' reliable late night treat man, or wacky change woman who can't make up her mind about which place you get to live or what is the best way to feed you. The answer is pretty obvious, pick good ole' reliable treat man. And that is how this is sorting out (at least for the time being). Steve comes late at night, brings treats and milks her and I do the middle of the day stuff.

I suspect she feels like I am the cleaning lady and Steve is the crown prince. I am not sure who she thinks Aidan is, the morning stable boy? Oh well, at least we all know our places. And Mattie is surely the princess in all this. One thing I know for sure, there's no way for her to be queen, Brigid has that role more than filled.

1 comment:

  1. Patti

    I've always loved Geurnseys the best. I hope you get another cow that adores YOU the most!