Leave the luxury out of this

If you grew up on a dairy farm as I did, you know of a few fundamental truths that are true at every one, wherever it may be.

1. Diary farms have a lot of diary cows.

2. Diary cows’ cow-flop-to-gallon-of-milk ratio is about 1,005,962-to-1.

3. If you find yourself at a diary farm, you will step on a cow flop. More than once. However, you will never, ever sink your foot into a gallon of milk. It’s written right there in the numbers.

There’s another pretty common thing found at most farms, though I can’t say it’s universal anymore. Farms contain farm equipment graveyards. Maybe not so much now, but decades ago, farmers didn’t trade in old tractors, trucks and other machinery. If it would run no more, it might be end up at the edge of the field, or behind a barn, or off in the nearby woods.

And there it would stay. And slowly decay. Slowly.

Go ahead, feel free to drive it away. The keys are in it.

Farm equipment was utilitarian, made for a use and once it was used up it wasn’t disgarded, it just wasn’t used any more. Be it tractor, cultivator or pickup truck.

I don’t live on a farm anymore, but I drive a pickup. Have for many years, on my second one. And while I don’t go out of my way to mistreat its interior or exterior – it’s a truck. I load big and messy things into the back that have scratched the paint or gouged dents into the body. Not once, but many times. The interior hasn’t been turned into a landfill, but it isn’t suitable-for-framing either.

Because it’s a damn truck. Not a limousine. It’s a GMC, not a Masserati. If you want luxury, then you go out and buy a …

2013 Ford F150?????????

It’s called the Limited and reportedly will take the top-spot in Ford’s line of the popular pickup. Probably will cost somewhat higher than the present bestest F150, which means more than $44,000.

In his automotive blog, “Exhaust Notes,” MSN.com writer Joshua Condon says “the interior gets full-grain leather offset by real aluminum and piano black finishes, heated/cooled front seats with memory function (the rear seats are heated as well) and ambient lighting with five accent colors. It’s also a tech-heavy truck, offering standard Sync with MyFord Touch and Sirius Travel Link on a centrally mounted 8-inch LCD screen, plus power-sliding rear windows with privacy tint and defrost.”

Sheesh – you think you have to take off your boots before getting into it?

“Heated/cooled” seats? “Real” aluminum? And what the hell is “ambient light with five accent colors”? Is this feature supposed to create something like ambiance? Ambiance? There’s no ambiance in a pickup truck!

There are certain laws of nature that just cannot be broken.

When I want to bring home a load of mulch I don’t call my brother-in-law and ask if I can borrow his Lexus. And when I want to take a slobbering, shedding and farting Old English Bulldog for a ride in my truck, I shouldn’t have to first vacuum him, then wash his feet and put a tie on him before he gets in.

And speaking of utilitarian, I wonder if the manual recommends to have a cord of firewood dry-cleaned before loading it into the truck bed. Oh, and there better not be any leather or piano black finishes back there either.

What good is a pickup truck that can’t be used as a pickup truck?


Rise of the Planet of the Cows?

Cows and me … we go way back.

When I was a kid, some of my best friends were cows. I’m sure at some points in my young life, the only friends I had were cows.

For nearly all of my formative years, I lived around them. My family’s home was next door to my grandfather’s house and he had a diary farm which, coincidentally, came outfitted with a bunch of cows as standard equipment. My father grew up with them too, since he, coincidentally, happened to live in the same house with my grandfather.

Funny how life works out sometimes, isn’t it.

Evidently what wasn’t funny back then was the first time they brought me into my grandfather’s big, ol’ dairy barn. I was petrified.

It might have had something to do with the decor. A long straight corridor. A narrow raised concrete path running down the middle of it. And framing both sides, lines of cow butt after cow butt after cow butt, some equipped with swinging tails. Which now and then, would rise up to warn you that about 17 pounds of steaming cow flop would be dropping any second now.

Cow House Beautiful, it wasn’t. But it soon would turn out to be for me, I’m told. For at that moment, my father and grandfather left. It was just me … and the cows.

I can only imagine how things went in there, since I don’t remember it. They say I was pretty upset at first, but then things got real quiet.


“Hey kid, what the hell are you screaming for, you’re loud enough to curdle milk.”

“Because all of you are going to whip me with your tails, stomp on me with your hooves and then eat me … and bury what’s left under a pile of steaming cow crap!”

“Bessie, can you believe this kid? Listen, and listen good – we may chew our cuds, but we don’t chew kids, kid.”

“You mean, you aren’t going to eat me?”

“You go to that silo over there and if you find it stuffed full of kids, then me and the rest of the girls here will squirt sarsaparilla soda at milking time. Now, go grab a hunk of that hay, and bring me a snack.”

And that was possibly how it went, how my life-long kinship with cows began. Oh, it might seem like a rather odd parenting method. But it worked. I’ve never been afraid of cows, or almost any animal. But of all of them, I think cows are the coolest.

Of course, had this happened today, my father and grandfather would be doing time and I’d be appearing on the “Today Show,” promoting my new book, “Holstein Horror: How I Faced down the Backside of a Cow and Survived” … soon to be a full-length feature film, starring George Clooney.

But while I’ve never met a cow I didn’t like, I’ve noticed a couple small news items lately that have me a tad worried, to be honest. I know cows to be quiet, gentle creatures, or at least they used to be.

In Boxford, Mass., six bovines came out of the darkness and crashed a backyard party. They didn’t bring potato salad, but they did arrive thirsty. According to the police report, the pack proceeded to push aside party-goers in their way and went “right for the beer.” They even knocked over glasses to spill themselves some more. “They enjoyed it, no doubt about it,” said one police official.

Bessie? Slurping the suds? These aren’t the friendly, cuddling cows that I know and love! But wait, there’s more.

Also in Massachusetts, outside the small Berkshire County town of Richmond, emergency personnel received a call to come to the aid of a man who had been knocked out by a cow along on a rural road. Medical staff arrived at Swamp Road to find the unidentified man unconscious, but breathing. The cow had fled the scene.

What’s happening? Cows make milk, not war!

I’m afraid this could be just the beginning. They could be taking over. If they do, listen carefully to me – I know cows. Don’t scream. Speak quietly. If they ask for it, bring them some hay.

But if their tails suddenly go up, as if reaching up to heaven itself … run.

Give me a beer … now … or I’ll punch your lights out.