Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 04/04/2019

Kansas State Fair

109603759Last year, as the summer was winding down, my husband and I took off early on a Saturday morning for Hutchinson, Kansas, a three-hour drive from our home in Kansas City.  Neither of us had been to a State Fair before.  Me, a girl from the Bronx, had only seen pictures of cows until I was fourteen.

I loved the sights and sounds and smells, and the people-watching was a huge bonus.

First stop:  Two corn on the cobs.  Once ordered, the cashier dunked both cobs in a vat of butter and handed them to us. I left that booth with butter dripping all over my hands and making its way from wrist to elbow.  I must have looked completely uninitiated because some stranger came to my rescue with about five napkins that she dug out of her purse.

Next:  A game on the Midway.  See how quick I got into the jargon of this experience?  Yup, I got suckered into one of the games that I knewI couldn’t win but handed over $5 anyway.  A bucket of rings, a little smaller than bracelet-size, which you tossed toward about 100 bottles, three feet away.  It looked like it should be so easy. I adjusted my technique as I made my way through the bucket of rings….throwing them haphazardly, then tossing them upward so they came down straight, presumably onto the bottle. The bucket must have contained 50 rings….and not one. came even close.  My sore loser response was that I wouldn’t have wanted to lug a big stuffed animal around all day anyway.

We watched a bunch of 4H kids showing goats, pigs, horses and chickens. Who knew you could show chickens? Not a single kid had any semblance of control over the animal they were showing, many a 4H-er being dragged in the direction their animal wanted to go.

We wandered over to The Birthing Center. This was a huge metallic barn sort of place, easily the size of three football fields.  One side of it contained bleachers, and in close proximity, three cows, each in their own chain-link enclosure.  One, a Holstein (I know, impressive….you don’t learn these sorts of things in the Bronx!) was in transition.  Yup, no mistaking that phase of delivering baby or beast.  She was pushing, she was up and down, standing, lying on her side, restless, moaning, panting.  If this cow needed a birthing coach, I was her woman.  I was transfixed.  Captivated. Feeling a deep synchronicity with her efforts, her pain, her bravery.  K-State vets were standing watch.  Finally, mama was given an assist and they broke her water.  And then……it was miraculous.  The front hooves made their appearance and within two minutes, the calf emerged.

And tears….unexpected tears for the miracle of it all.  For the solidarity, the blessing, the privilege of being female. We have such a unique role in this world, and it took a haggard, weary, female Holstein to bring that point home.



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