Words, Not Numbers

I like to decorate, clean, organize, make things look better. I like to attempt to put words together to create a picture or story. Farmer can do none of those – and he’s the first to admit that.

I can do numbers. I’m smart enough, I just don’t like to. Numbers don’t make you laugh or give you anticipation when you look at page full like a page of words.

There was a time when I had three different checking accounts. I had ESP written several times in the register – error some place - accompanied by stars and asterisks. I would just switch checking accounts and let the error die a natural death.

Now, Farmer – he loves the numbers.

When it comes to bringing the new cows into our system, not everything dumps in with the little thinga maboby – the scan disk. So, we had a touch (actually a dump truck full) of manual key dancing to do. And, I (place back of hand over my brow and tilt my head to the side) being the good wife helped him.

This is how the dance danced.

First things first on the computer - delete the old ID number of the cow. Then input the new ID number of the cow.

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Oh, that was after manually taking out the old number tags from the cow’s ear and replacing it with a new one while manually writing down the new number next to the print out of the old one – while in the barn – while the wind is blowing – while the poop is splatting – get the picture?

Back to the computer - enter the cow number tab, tab, tab enter the cow’s birthdate. Tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab (yes 13 tabs or run mouse over the top of a bumpy cardboard box on your lap) enter the last lactation date. Then one quick little tab to enter what number the lactation was. For instance, Cow # 3478 bd 07/31/2017 – lactation date 08/10/2019 – 1.

Also, this is in a small 3 X 3 office, well maybe a little bigger but it was a confined area with Farmer for 5.5 hours two days in a row. The fact that we both came out alive is a miracle in itself.


Take a break from inputting and physically put together new responders (pedometers).


Take new responders into the parlor where the cows are being milked. First mark down each cow’s number when in the parlor – front to back (8). Then write down new responder number (small, hard to read) beside the cow’s number and put responder on the cow’s back leg when the milker comes off. That last statement sounds so easy.

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The cows are still somewhat new to the parlor and they are getting better at being OK here with us, but still a little jumpy. So, reaching in to place the responder around the back leg, inserting the tab into the nice small slot and then pulling the tab through to tighten like a zip tie (just the right amount, not too tight but not too loose) all while avoiding her fidgeting and kicking her foot. That part isn’t so bad. It gets a little dicey when she’s just plain ticked off and starts kicking out to the side right about eyeball level and dang can they kick fast!

Then after recovering from the head bobbing, arm flinging responder attaching, we take the poop splattered paper with the list of numbers back into the 5X5 office, well maybe a little bigger.

Now, we “find” the cow’s number by inputting their number in the search bar, enter. Drag mouse to pen number, enter the pen number, tab, tab enter new responder number and then take mouse and drag to the save button (apparently any shortcut keys aren’t cow friendly) and then drag the mouse back up to the “find” window and repeat – 500 times!! Well, a little less than 500 but it felt like 800.

After about an hour of inputting four-digit numbers over and over again you would swear on your child’s life that 9764 had be entered several times or was it 9746? After the first data entry party our eyeballs were focusing independently. You wouldn’t think you could claim eye strain on workman’s comp for dairy farming.

The second day walking into the 6X6 office, well maybe a little bigger, my body started to shake a little and sweat broke out on my top lip – “not again, please, anything but this”.

But we persevered. We finished it. There was no blood shed.

Numbers are still not my favorite.

Perhaps we could replace numbers with words. Perhaps replace each cow’s number with a name. . . hmmm maybe that’s something worth looking into. But, then again it would mean going back into the lip sweating, heart pounding room again. I think we’ll just leave it at that and be grateful we managed with out any ESPs anywhere on the lists.