Life’s Lessons Learned
By Harold, Editor-At-Large
Emily the Cow
In 1945-46 a local beef farmer gave me a little heifer that he knew was dying, because the cow’s milk had not came down to feed it. You had all kinds of red tape and regulations to file if this happened, I found out later, and this is how they knew I had the calf.
I traded work for some milk from a newly fresh dairy cow over at another neighbors to have the colostrum necessary for the calf’s digestive system to start working. I got two quarts of it and having no other place to keep the calf, except in the enclosed breezeway between the house and the smokehouse, I bedded down with the calf there with my quilts, an old tarpaulin and the dogs who joined me in the straw with the calf. It was early spring and still cold and the calf would have died had we not done this. I slept with it for a week until it was up on its feet and nursing from a teat bucket we had using milk from our own cow and later a milk replacement that was highly fortified.
We didn’t have anything and I had just started school the next year, so I had to scrounge feed for it. As soon as the plants came through that spring, I pulled handfulls of the grass and succulent weeds from along the fence rows and railroad embankment to feed the calf until I could tether it out on a long wire when I went to school and find it halfway down the fence row when I would return.
My folks argued about what to do with my calf, Dad wanting to sell it for the income and my Mom wanting to butcher it for our own use and bartering with other people.
Dad only had a third grade education and was only able to obtain steady work at the lumber yard after the war had started and most of the menfolk had left to go to war. He was overbearing and mean and abusive both verbally and physically and I caught a lot of flak because of my position first boy after four girls and not able to do the work he expected of me.
During the war years from 1942 until 1948 everything was tightly rationed as not only were we having to feed all of the troops who otherwise would have been eating at home but we were also feeding the world and England in particular which I still have up to a couple of years ago, differences of opinion with Brits. The arrogant French I simply refuse to talk to.
All large animals were required to be sold at the government approved price which was practically stealing and then some of it could be repurchased at an inflated price with ration coupons. Government’s way of exacting extra taxation on you. In the fall of ‘46 the calf was pretty good sized, probably about 850 pounds, and she was a beauty, Black Angus, small, sleek and the farmer wanted to buy her back from us.
Dad said no, he did not want to sell her until spring when the market was better and Mom wanted to butcher her. Lo and behold, one evening in early November of ‘46 I came in from school and collected the calf along the fence row as I walked home and when I arrived in the yard, a truck from the co-op in Indianapolis was there with a government order to pick her up.
The farmer who had given her to me swore he had not turned us in. I found later it was a worthless family at the edge of town (Yes, we had the entitlement mentality back then thanks to FDR and his New Deal and WPA.) who had wanted us to give them a lot of the meat when we butchered Emily the cow.
I think the government gave us 12 cents a pound live weight and then took a bunch of it back in taxes and permits, so we practically wound up with nothing. I have nothing against feeding the troops and would have gladly pitched in, but I don’t like the underhandedness of the government forcing you to do something like that back then. Truth be known, they probably gave that worthless bunch part of the meat.
That is a big reason why I am so fearful for the preppers and believe in opsec. The stupid ninyards in the government will start wholesale confiscation to ensure equality and see that those who have nothing and did not prepare and lived off the dole all those years have an equal share even though it belongs to the individuals.
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