Cows Don’t Need Wristwatches

[imgbelt img= julie_chick320.jpg]How do you learn? By doing — in the out-of-doors, among animals, with the guidance of a firm and loving elder.


[imgcontainer left] [img:julie_chick320.jpg] [source]Rebecca Lee

The author at age 8, with a chick at her grandfather Alvin Lee’s farm, Conecuh County, Alabama

All I really need to know I learned feeding cows with my grandpa, Alvin Lee.

My grandfather had about ten head of cattle and several chickens. He farmed purely out of enjoyment. He sold eggs as well as sweet milk, buttermilk and butter. Growing up next door, my brother Jesse and I were very involved from a young age in activities at Grandpa’s farm. As small children, we were thrilled to scatter the corn for chickens, gather the eggs and open the gate to the pasture so Grandpa could pull his long-wheel-base Chevy inside. We learned so much from my grandpa in the time that he was with us. He left a huge void in our family when he died from cancer in 1992. I was 15 years old.

In the happy years before, our days hinged on that special time every afternoon that we spent with our grandpa. During that time, I discovered many life lessons that made me what I am today.

First off, always be on time. My grandpa did not care when Sesame Street was over. If I wanted to go with him to feed cows, I had to be at his house at 3:30 p.m., sharp. My mother used to joke with him that his cows didn’t wear wristwatches. He would always counter that the cows knew when it was time to be fed and that’s when he was going to feed. If I was late, I got left, plain and simple. I shed plenty of tears, sitting at the house on the back porch waiting for him to come back. I realized at a young age that I couldn’t blame anyone but myself for being left behind. I learned to be where I needed to be, when I needed to be there, if not earlier.