My family and I visited the SC State Fair when it was in town a few weeks ago,
and although my children loved the rides, of course, I would have enjoyed
exploring the animal and agriculture exhibits the entire time. Visiting the fair is a great way to see farm
animals that are otherwise only visible out the car window or on an organized
Sometimes, the visit was a little too close for comfort for
me: in the cattle area, visitors can walk among the cows, alarmingly close to
the rear end of the cow. My father
raised beef cattle for many years, and my parents trained me from earliest
childhood to make a wide berth around the backside of the cow, not only to
avoid unpredictable emissions but also to avoid suddenly kicking hooves. Apparently, the cows at the fair, and milk
cows in general, are much tamer than my father’s cows, although one cow-keeping
teenage girl at the fair delighted in telling me about the hoof mark her friend
sported on her forehead at school. I am
glad the friend was not in a hospital.
I enjoyed the poultry barn the most, of course. The cacophony of dozens of roosters, confined
in stacks of cages for everyone’s safety, crowing at adversaries both seen and
unseen, was nearly deafening. One Barred
Plymouth Rock rooster, in a cage above his hen, was apparently tired of
crowing, and, between crows, yawned widely and closed his eyes in heavy
blinks. We came by again later and he
was asleep with his beak tucked under his wing.
I had not seen many roosters before these, and the size of
the roosters in comparison to the hens awed me.
As I have mentioned in this blog, I have had some adventures catching my
relatively tame hens, which are small and do not have spurs. Trying to cajole one of these huge roosters
into going somewhere he was not inclined to seems like something I’d rather not
tangle with. I do like the idea of
having a rooster, the resulting baby chicks, and a self-sustaining flock of
chickens, though. He would also protect
the hens. Until my children are old
enough to defend themselves and to escape an attacking rooster, though, we will
just have hens.
I admire the dedication of all farmers, and especially
farmers of animals besides poultry.
Chickens are relatively independent as long as their needs for food,
water, recreation, and shelter are met. A
farmer has to milk a dairy cow or goat, though, every day, usually twice a
day. If the farmer misses a milking, the
animal will suffer the pain of an overfilled udder, may develop an infection,
and will eventually stop giving milk.
Farmers cannot go out for the evening with friends and sleep late the
next morning; they have to be home to milk in the evening and up to milk in the
morning. I understand that dairy animals
do not like just having anyone milk them, either, and so getting someone to
fill in might be difficult. Chickens do
not care who feeds them.
I visited my aunt’s neighbors at the milking time for her
goats. She milked her goats, which
behave sort of like hooved dogs that give milk, and took the still-warm milk
into the house to strain it and to make cheese.
We sampled some of the milk and goat cheese. The idea of having my own milk and making my
own cheese does sound like fun, but I think I’ll let someone else make the
commitment to the animals and to cheese making.
I can keep my commitments to my chickens.
Labels: chickens, milk cows, milk goats, poultry, roosters, South Carolina State Fair