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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jun 1, 2012

Sometime in the mid-1950s, my parents bought my sisters and me a set of books called The Book of Knowledge, an encyclopedia for kids.

Being a book worm, I would, from time to time, pull a book from the shelf and browse through it looking for anything interesting.

I was surfing the web 1950s-style before I knew what surfing was or there was even a web to surf.

Each volume had a section of stories and poems that would be of interest to kids in grade school. One day when I was around 7 or 8, I opened Volume 3 to the children’s poetry section and read a poem titled “The Moo Cow Moo.”

It was the funniest thing I had read in my short reading career. I read it again and again. It was so funny I read it to my sister who was around 5 or 6. As I read it to her, I could hardly read it to her without stopping to laugh.

The poem describes a child’s viewpoint of encountering a dairy cow. The description and word usage indicate that the young child was speaking as one who had very little or no schooling, describing the cow in the most basic of terms.

There are seven verses and my favorite is this verse:

The Moo Cow’s tail is a piece of rope

All raveled out where it grows;

And it’s just like feeling a piece of soap

All over the Moo Cow’s nose.

Growing up, my encounters with cattle were not of the dairy kind, but of the beef variety. Still, a cow is a cow and a cow’s wet, slippery nose is “like feeling a piece of soap.”

That same set of The Book of Knowledge was in my parents’ home and during the 1980s, I got out volume 3 just to see if that poem was where I thought it was. It was.

This brings us to today and reading The Moo Cow Moo is much easier than reaching for the right book and leafing through it in search of a certain page. A simple search on your computer will lead you to The Moo Cow Moo in a matter of seconds.

That search will tell you that The Moo Cow Moo was written by Edmund Vance Cooke and appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in Nov. 21, 1903. It has been a favorite of teachers, students and dairy people for many years.

June is dairy month and remember that along side that steak hot off the grill will be served butter for that potato with some cheese or sour cream courtesy of someone in the dairy business who, two or maybe three times a day, takes care of milking chores, seven days a week.

It is demanding physical work with no guarantee of profitably. The volatility of dairy prices of recent years has resulted in boom and bust cycles creating a shake out in the dairy business of some producers. Being in the dairy business is not for the faint-hearted.

The dairy people I have met were not milk producers just for the money. They recognized that profitability was a requirement, but they had a commitment to the care of their cattle and knowing they were contributing to an important process that was part of creating a delicious meal.

In honor of June Dairy Month, find someone to read “The Moo Cow Moo” to, like I read to my sister almost 60 years ago.

I would recommend someone under the age of 10 and when you are done, enjoy a bowl of your favorite flavor of ice cream together.

After all, June is dairy month.

As far as I am concerned, every month is dairy month.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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