When we first moved to Spring Arbor, we lived at the corner of Matthews Road and M-60, and dad had one cow, a Jersey. I called her “Brownie.”
I ran my hands over her coat and leaned into her hip and buried my nose in her hair. Dad appointed me to hold her tail.
He sat on a stool with the top of his head resting in her flank and his hands reaching under to pull her milk down into a pail.
Every morning and every evening, I stood faithfully by Brownie’s lovely brown bottom, holding her tail in two hands like a bell ringer in a church steeple. Hold tight, Dad said, so she could not swish him in the face or dip her tail in the milk.
Since then I’ve looked inside many dairy barns at milking time, yet I’ve never seen anyone holding a cow’s tail. Because they don’t have a highly responsible person of three and a half years whose father assigned him to a position of importance.