July 16-30, 2001 Lee, Massachusetts /
Hello Girls, Highlawn Farm

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A cow farm. Highlawn Farms. They have a white milk truck parked on their lawn out front. Jersey cows. Hello girls.

It’s a glorious day, perfect light trees breezes low slung barns off white with gray and red trim. Yellow ochre silos. Dave Klausmeyer gives me a tour of the operation. First he introduces me to Honey and Dipstick. “Honey is the only black and white cow we have here, ’he reaches down and touches the cat. ‘And I tease Dipstick. An all white cat with her tail dipped in ink.” Both cats find a shady place in the front window of the store. What a great place to be a cat I think.

‘They treat the cows great there,’ the farm worker with missing teeth in a green Highlawn Farm logo stitched t-shirt tells me later waiting in line at the McDonalds in Lee. “Every morning a man comes and feeds the calves. The calves are separated in one stall aging from 1 day to 3 months. Then there are the 3 to 6 months calves; feisty, young very young beige yellow ochre black pink eager happy big hoofed dopey cows. In an open pen all vying for our attention. Curious, open staring mooing ‘No me,’ ‘No me’ ‘Come see me,’ crowding each other out for us to see them touch them get as close as we possibly can without actually getting into the pen with them. They are big even at 3 months old.

They must milk a lot of cows every day to supply every one of their clients. Yellow plastic numbered tags identify each cow. 587, 580 crowd to get closer to me by the railing in their pen. Their heads extend all the way out between the poles. They let us scratch their heads and then try to lick us by also extending their tongues as far as they possibly can. They muzzle and lick and chew whatever they can get their tongues on. It is a constant barrage and barter for our affection. Their noses snort hellos and try to smell us while we watch these silly girls preening for us.

lee3In the next pen further down are the four ‘men’, bulls who are totally black and the breeders. Further down from the guys are the 6months to 1-year-old cows. Jack drives by on his tractor, his right eye covered with a big black patch. “At 3 o’clock we’ll be calling them in for milking so make sure your cars are not blocking the lane.”

Six brothers and sisters asked Dave Klausmeyer to help save their farm. He has a firm handshake reassuring affirmative quality integrity. If anyone can save this farm it is Dave. I can feel the bone in his hand as I shake it. Clean and clear even in the way he talks about the Farm, cows, people, and cats. “We have only high quality products here. Make sure you drink some of our milk and lemonade on the way out.”

We all move down the lane in our cars to make drawings nearer the milking cows that have been let out to pasture. We park opposite the famous clock tower that is a landmark and identifies the farm. ‘It is Swiss made,” Dave tells me ‘and only runs on the side you can see from the street.’ That is a very New England thing to do someone tells me later.

The ‘girls’ crowd around the fence, so laden with milk that they are about ready to burst. The other cows laze around curious about us their visitors and move ever so slowly to sit down in the shade until exactly at 3 o’clock when intuition, or bodies heavy with milk, habit, or maybe even the call ‘yoo-hoo, come on girls!’ and the thought of more food starts a caravan up the hill and into the milking barn. More than once during the day do I look up to be staring directly into a cow’s mug. Dead-on and inches away; huge dopey black-eyed curiosity questioning animal face, ’Hey, what are you doing over there?”

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I back up in my car on the rutted lane to leave and I do a three-point turn right into a ditch. I end up walking a quarter- mile back up by the silos, turn left at the orange-cabbed truck and head back into the office where I encounter Dipstick and Honey right where I left them; asleep in the windowsill. Families with their kids stream in wanting to see the calves up close and watch the cows in the milking center.

Big-bellied, bearded Mike and smaller Jim walk me back down the hill, past the manure pile. ” How do you feel about hopping the fence?” “Hey, this is no problem, turn your wheel to the left and put her in reverse.” They easily push me out as if it is just another moment in their otherwise very physical day. “Now, hard right with your wheel,” and I am out. I roll down the window to thank them. “Stay on the dirt until you hit the paved road. We were watching you, and wondering what you were doing down here.”

I hear them call, ’hey girls’ as I drive off.

It is then and only then I notice the smell; the smell of cows that is now on me, from them, on my clothes, in my hair, all over my car.

© 2017 Lynn Pauley