I’m still feeding our two bottle calves milk once a day. My mom, who is a veteran of raising bum calves on a nickel, seemed mildly appalled when she visited this week and witnessed these big babies, who also eat grain and hay and grass and with whom I will not be on the same side of the fence, guzzling valuable milk replacer. (Similarly, she is somewhat baffled by the length of time for which I nurse my human babies.)
Perhaps my delay in weaning these big babies stems from an incident from my childhood that is seared into my memory. You see, I am a lifelong lover of good ol’ grocery store 2% cow’s milk. There came a time in my youth — I was maybe eight years old — when my dad discerned that I was drinking more than my share of milk. He and Mom devised a plan to wean me gently from the milk jug (from which I was likely directly drinking the majority of my meals): From then on, a percentage of the milk I desired would have to be rehydrated powdered milk. You know, the kind that comes in the paper-wrapped cardboard box with the little metal spout on it.
And let me tell you, I don’t think they were mixing it up any too rich, either. It was definitely on the skim side. (I’ll admit, though, that powdered milk probably can’t be helped no matter what ratio you mix it with water.)
That powdered milk hurt my heart. I wasn’t punished much when I was little, and I’m quite sure I wasn’t spanked enough, but you can be sure that decreased milk ration felt like punishment to me.
So this is why I haven’t the heart to deny a big baby his or her milk: Because I remember being weaned myself. And I think I’d-a rather had a spankin’.