Subscribers get two chances to win a free audio copy of Jim Collins's The Simple Path to Wealth in December. Mr. Money Mustache reads the Forward. Don't miss out. Subscribe today!
It all went wrong before I ever started. Mrs. Accountant and the junior accountants (I have daughters so I guess they are junettes) carpooled with me to take care of a variety of errands in town. When the family gathers in a confined place the situation turns strange very fast as I start with crazy talk.
For the record I consider myself a bit of a comedian. Not in any professional sense, but I fashion myself as a funny guy. Give me an espresso or two, wait fifteen minutes and watch the fun begin. Once on a roll it is hard to stop the train.
The clan sees me writing a blog so a lot of blog writing is going on around the house. Before long I was coming up with what I considered powerhouse titles to posts when the title of this post popped into my head. Groans echoed around the cabin of the car. I stood my ground. It was funny and I knew it. (It was also clickbait and I knew that too!)
The girls of the household don’t always hold my level of humor in high esteem. It hurts. My feelings are tender. The lack of enthusiasm for my blog title only encouraged me to step up the game a level. I started to flesh out the details of the obvious humor piece. The jokes came fast and furious while I skirted around the implication of the title.
No matter how hard I milked the situation I was cowed. My udderly fantastic jokes fell on deaf ears! How could that be?
Later in the day we stopped at the office. I shared my humor with the team. My spirits found another hoof to stand on as the folks who haunt the halls of my practice found my humor enjoyable. Then it dawned on me I pay these people. They could be humoring me to preserve their paycheck or it could be I hire people as perverted as me. More research was required.
The last item on the agenda was a visit to the gym. I couldn’t wait to share my humor. But before I had the title out groans pulsed through the crowd. The ladies turned and left with twisted faces; the guys were stunned silent. As hard as it is, I had to put the idea out to pasture.
If you allow an idea to percolate in my head for a while I sometimes turn a sow’s ear into a coin purse. (My apologies to all the sows reading this blog.) The title is obviously clickbait and I am good with that. It also allows me to share stories from my farming background that help illustrate the issues surrounding financial independence and success. So here goes.
You can learn a lot about a farmer by looking at his cows. Cows are ladies and should be treated as such. They are as soft and tender as any human female. They will love you and trust you as long as it is earned. If you slap your significant other around you get the same response a cow gives when you beat and abuse her.
In the old days before milking parlors were the rage farmers milked cows while they stood in stalls with their heads secured (the cows, not the farmers) in a stanchion. Two rows of cows were secured along either side of a wide walkway.
Cows don’t always want to get milked. Some cows love it; other are a bit more reluctant to getting felt up by a human and have a machine suctioned to their teats. Women.
When a woman refuses to listen, a man has several ways to deal with the situation. You can grab a pipe or hit with the expected results of anger, push-back, animosity and fear. It doesn’t work guys! You can force all you want, but nothing beats voluntary compliance. (Stay with me ladies. Voluntary compliance through deceit is not nice either, but there is a point to this.)
There are other methods to getting a cow in a stanchion. An unruly cow can be pushed. Every farmer knows you can twist a cow’s tail in a loop and push. It causes serious pain for the cow and might be enough to get the cow to walk forward. Of course if you push even a bit too much you break the tail.
You can tell a lot about a farmer by walking into his barn. If his cows all have broken tails you know what’s going on. The farmer thinks he can force his girls into compliance. Hitting and the electric cattle prod are sure to be a part of the torture sessions.
This behavior is cruel and never works. Dumb farmers up the game by breaking the tail multiple times or getting a bigger lead pipe. Thankfully most of these types of farmers are long gone, out of business.
You never treat a lady like that. EVER! And cows are ladies. If you treat your ladies in the barn that way I can only imagine how you treat the lady of the house.
Busted tails are a bad sign! It doesn’t work either. Cows get stubborn and will take the pain before acquiescing. Hence the multiple tail breaks. It also lowers milk production. Happy cows make happy farmers; abused cows make broke farmers.
There is a way to get a cow to do what you want within reason. For that we need to talk numbers.
My Favorite Numbers
Years later we built a milking parlor (1978). (I started milking cows at a young age.) Our parlor was a herringbone style where twelve cows were milked in two rows, six on each side. The cows walked in and stood at a slight angle so the backside of the cow was slightly toward the middle.
The farmer stood in a pit between the rows of cows. The pit was a major improvement over stanchions. No more crouching and kneeling to milk cows. More knees were saved than any other time in history.
The udders were chest height to the farmer in the pit. The udder was washed with warm water and massaged to help the cow relax and drop her milk. A machine with teat cups with pulsing suction extracted the milk. Another tremendous improvement was the automatic takeoff. When the cow was done milking the machine sensed this and automatically stopped the suction and an arm pulled back the milking apparatus.
Once the cow was milked the farmer’s work was not done. The farmer would apply teat dip to each teat to prevent bacteria from entering the teat, protecting from disease.
The care and treatment of cows is of the highest importance to dairy farmers. Those girls are the entire business. An injured or sick cow meant hard times for the farmer. Treat your girls right and business was good.
Milking parlors increase the number of cows one person could milk. Our simple herringbone style parlor allowed me to milk a couple hundred cows in a few hours versus several people milking 60 cows in the same timeframe.
As the cows waited to be milked they stood in a holding area. As cows were milked and released the holding area needed to shrink to force the cows into the parlor. An electrified bar with chains hanging down were on a trolley controlled from the parlor pit. The farmer hit a button sending an alarm from the electrified chains as the trolley slowly moved forward. I hated the darn thing with a passion.
My favorite cow was Number 34. She was always the second cow in every milking on the south side of the parlor. Her daughter, Number 82, was the last cow milked every time. Both walked in of their own free will.
You see, Number 34 and I had a good working relationship. I would greet her every day with a smile and a hug around the neck. The way she turned her head to hug me back makes me believe she enjoyed our relationship. She was a good cow. I miss her.
Her daughter, Number 82, was just as friendly. Mother and daughter enjoyed more petting and brushing than any two cows I ever saw. Our cows were friendly, but these two were off the scale.
34 was nearly first every milking; 82 was last because she was cleanup crew. I hated the electric chains so I used them seldom. 82 would actually herd the last stragglers in before she stepped in herself to be milked. God, I miss those girls.
Remember I said some farmers try to force their cows into compliance? Well, it doesn’t work any better with cows than it does with humans. The preferred method to encourage compliance is bribery with food. To get cows in stanchions a farmer will place food in a bunk in front of the stanchions. It works wonders.
In the parlor there was a place for corn or haylage in each spot the cows stood. Corn is a powerful inducement to get cows to do what you want. I never bribed my girls. They always walked in because they wanted to be milked.
A cow with a full udder must feel uncomfortable. At least it seemed to me by their body language. The only reason a cow will not volunteer for the blessed relief of an empty udder is abuse or fear. Food can get a cow to respond even when afraid, but it is completely unnecessary if you treat the ladies with respect.
My voice was all I needed. “Milking time girls,” is all I needed to say and they came running. If they were out in the pasture I yelled out, “Here, CABAASSSSS!” The high pitched wail was all that was needed to bring the herd running, yes running, to the barn. There is something about a couple hundred cows running straight for you at full speed. A cow weights around 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) each. Mutual respect is the only reason I felt safe standing my ground while exposed.
My cows knew me and I knew them. Each cow has her own personality. Daily I would walk among the cows as they grazed in the field or roamed the free stall barn, petting them as I went. I knew a cow was sick before she did. I could see it in her body and actions.
Communication was important. My ladies knew my voice and knew it meant safety. They ran to my voice any time of the day. If I walked among them they always gathered around.
There is no doubt my girls knew what I was saying. Sure, they didn’t know the actual words, but they knew the tone. They knew I was going to brush them before I did. The cows would rub against me, careful not to knock me over. I didn’t push them around and they didn’t push me around. Something I was always grateful for. My girls a big!
Milking cows taught me how to treat women (and money). You can’t force either. You might use intimidation or fear to get what you want but it is always a self-defeating activity. My cows wanted to come by me and be milked. Mrs. Accountant loves me and stays by me because she wants to. I can’t force her (or the junettes) to do anything they don’t want to. The relationship is symbiotic.
People try to force money all the time by playing the lottery of day trading. It rarely works. You can start breaking tails to force the issue or bribing with yummy corn. In the end it is the hard way to get anything done.
The only way to financial independence is the same way to treat cows. You spend time at it patiently. You invest daily and allow the investment to yield dividends. When done correctly the cows walk right in to be milked. When done correctly money comes to you without threat or intimidation or forcing of the issue.
Finally, all those years of experience massaging cow udders to please my cows have paid off with Mrs. Accountant. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist at least one joke from the original content.)