I hope most of you remember Flip Wilson and his character, Geraldine.  Her catch phrase was “the Devil made me do it!”  Whenever she did something bad she always blamed the Devil for it. 

This is not the Geraldine I want to share with you.  My Geraldine was a Holstein cow that we purchased when she was a calf and raised to adulthood on our farm when I was a little girl.  I think she might have been named after Flip’s character as we loved his show and watched it as a family. 

We had a lot of calamity when we first brought her home as a calf.  She had a funny kind of moo that sounded a bit like Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…Moooooo…  At first, since we were a bit little and Geraldine a bit rambunctious, Mom used to feed her in the morning from her bottle.  Her bottle looked like a half gallon milk bottle with a very large nipple on it.  She would suck and pull so hard on it that it would throw you back a few steps each time she thrust.

Mom would head out to the barn in her blue parka with the furry hood and when Geraldine spotted her she would start with her Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…Moooooo… until Mom placed the bottle in her mouth to shut her up feed her.  We christened Mom from that point forward, The Big MaaMoo

Geraldine got out of the barn from time to time and was known to chew things.  She chewed the clothes on our clothesline and then went once across the street to chew the neighbors, too.  That was a case of not making good neighbors as we had to replace some undershirts she turned into Swiss cheese.  Undershirts were her particularly favorite snack of choice. 

Our neighbors had a party once and they purchased a keg of beer.  Mom thought that after it went flat it might be good to give the remainder, a bucket’s worth, to Geraldine.  Well, I guess even flat beer has some alcohol in it as Geraldine got plowed!  She staggered around the yard for quite a while before passing out in her stall later that day.  I never heard a cow snore, but snore she did and mightily, too!

As Josephine grew she developed a set of horns.  I cannot recall the exact point I got scared of Geraldine, but I did.  Geraldine seemed to sense this and thought she would have a bit of fun with me.  She would wait until I was in her stall and then pin me in the corner.  She was actually about 4-5 feet from me, but when you are a little girl and she is a full sized cow taller than you, you respect that she can cause you great bodily destruction.  My brothers thought this was quite funny and when my parents were not home would create reasons for me to go into her pen and then leave me as I cried and screamed for them or anyone to save me from her.  Sometimes this went on for quite a while. 

She never hurt me, ever, but I was not taking any chances.  Geraldine did have one calf, Bernard.  He was a lovely little guy with the longest and thickest eyelashes I ever saw.  He had the sweetest big brown eyes, too.  Mom decided that Bernard would be raised as a veal calf.  If you know anything about veal, they never get to grow up.  You feed them a very thick and high fat milk mixture to fatten them quickly and 6-8 weeks later they are white packages in the freezer. 

They say that when you live on a farm that you should never name the animals that you plan to eat.  That way you never think of them as pets.  Well, since I was the one responsible for feeding Bernard each morning, I had to give him a name.  I couldn’t just call him nothing.  So I christened him Bernard.  Imagine my horror as I came home from school to learn that I no longer had to feed him in the morning!  I was crushed he was gone, but happy that that morning chore was complete.  Now Bernard was clean, white packages in the freezer. 

I can honestly tell you that I never ate one bite.  How could I possibly after staring into those big brown eyes every morning.  I would scratch him between the ears after feeding him, he would follow me around and he was like my pet.  I named him and I had to pay that price.  So it was lots of meals with vegetables only for me.

Bernard, I am so sorry!