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From the Farm

Earn your keep or hit the road

November 6, 2009
By Kerry Hoffman

I am not sure how other families operate, but here in the House of Hoffman, if you're not pulling your weight, you can bet we will let you know.

If you leave your dishes in my living room, or your shoes under the kitchen table, you earn a mark on the dry-erase board attached to the Amana refrigerator. The marks don't really mean anything; I am not going to withhold supper or quit washing clothes. The marks serve their purpose of letting the other family members jibe you when the person has way more marks than her or she does. Just thee other week I had a mark of one to the one-hundredth power. I guess I Ieft my shoes lying around the house quite a bit. How I ended up with that ungodly number is beyond me.

In return, I carefully crafted hash marks of five, to add to 100, in Russell and Joey's special squares to see if they are paying attention.

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Kerry Hoffman

"What did I do to get 100 marks?" Joey whined.

"Nothing today," I reply. "I'm just catching up on from years ago that I forgot to mark."

It must have been after that when I received my outrageous mark count.

Steve must be perfect, he doesn't even have is own area on the dry-erase board.

Anyway, I seem to be getting off the intended path.

I have written before that when a cow doesn't earn her keep, she has to "Hit the road, Jack, and she won't come back no more, no more, no more, no more." In reality, it makes us cry to see her leave us, and we don't sing the mentioned song. Joey, Russell and I hate it when Steve sells a cow. They really are like pets.

If a cow doesn't milk enough, has foot issues, or just doesn't get pregnant, then she's not pulling her wait around here and she has to go.

Unless, of course, the cow's name is Moose.

If you can recall, I wrote about Moose several weeks ago. She was the cow in the calving barn that was about 10 days overdue. She kept kidnapping other cows' calves and treating them as her own. She coerced calves into the pasture, across the feed bunk and all over the farm.

I figured she was just being a good cow. I wrote that if she would just think about having her calf, she wouldn't have to kidnap everyone else's.

Well, no matter how hard thought about having a calf, she wasn't going to have one of her very own.

She's not even pregnant. Oh, she was pregnant, but then must have lost it without us even realizing she did. Maybe she was kidnapping baby calves to fill the little hole in her heart. She's just that type of cow - Sweeter than sweet, nicer than nice and more loved than a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup pooling in the bottom of the bowl.

So now, here we are with Moose, a cow that isn't being milk, hasn't been milked for several months, and if she got pregnant tomorrow, wouldn't be able to milk for at least another nine months.

So essentially, we have to feed her tons of food, for her to do nothing, except eat and serve her purpose as our favorite pet cow of the time. We can still go lie on her while she calmly chews her cud, scratch under her neck as she waits to come into the barn and give her a favorite treat - frozen chunks of silage. Hey, frozen silage to Moose is like a Milk Bone to Bob the Wonder Dog.

I don't think Moose gets her tail wagging at warp speed like Bob does, but her ears sure perk up.

So in the end, I think maybe Moose is pulling her own weight around here. Her purpose is to be our pet. Several months ago, because the inevitable is going to happen, Steve and I chose to allow Russell and Joey to pick one cow that can live here forever, no matter what the circumstances.

Russell picked his favorite cow Antipope. (Don't ask. I don't know the name Antelope turned to Antipope.) Joey, of course, picked his cow Moose. If only those two cows new how lucky they really are.

Joey believes that Moose still does serve a purpose her on the farm.

"It's not a bad thing that Moose isn't pregnant, because now she's in there to take care of all the other calves," Joey said.

And more than likely, he's correct. Moose is still in the barn where all the animals calve. I am quite sure she will be kidnapping consequent calves that show up in the barn. And when we all need a neck to scratch, a warm cow to lie on during the winter and urge to feed someone a ball of frozen silage, Moose will be there.

Yup, she's pulling her weight at the House of Hoffman.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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