Once grandma and I went in search of a cow. It was milking time when we arrived at the farm. Being a lover of animals, grandma did not like the way the milking was done on the farms in that part of the country. She said to the farmer, “If you’ll give the cow a little grain to eat while you’re milking, then handle her gently and speak to her soothingly, you won’t need to tie her legs. She’ll learn to stand for you, and she’ll be much happier and more comfortable.”
We took a cow named Molly home and turned her into the pasture on grandma’s place. Every afternoon we went together to bring her home for milking. Down the trail leading through the eucalyptus forest1 we walked, listening for the cowbell tied around Molly’s neck. When we heard it, I would hop over logs and bushes, flourishing a stick, while grandma stood on the path calling, “Co,’ Boss! Co,’ Boss!” Then we would go home together, driving the cow in front of us.
One day when Molly was bawling for her calf, I saw grandma put her arm around Molly’s neck and tell the grieving mother cow how sorry she was that her calf had been taken away.
No matter where we lived, if there were any domestic animals around, grandma made friends with them. As soon as her foot touched the barn floor, the pony would whinny a welcome and stretch out her neck for the petting she knew was coming. Grandma couldn’t bear to see animals abused because, as she said, “they can’t tell us of their sufferings.”
Once while I was riding in the carriage with her, we saw a man beating a thin, bony mare that was struggling to pull a heavily loaded cart up a steep hill.
“Sara,”2 she said quickly, “stop the carriage!” Then she spoke to the man: “Sir, have you lost your reason? Can’t you see that poor creature is doing her best?” Strange to say, the man apologized, then removed half the load and piled it beside the road, saying he would make it in two trips.
—Excerpt taken from Stories of My Grandmother, pp. 19, 20, by Ella May Robinson