altJune is dairy month. It’s also my birthday month. I have fond memories of the dairy men and women of Wright and Texas counties in Missouri.

As a fourth grader, my family and I relocated to Southwest Missouri. My mom went to work as a teacher’s aid in our elementary school. During her tenure as an aid, she met Mrs. Coats. Mrs. Coats was a reading teacher and wife to Jimmie Coats. Together the two of them had a herd of Holstein cows.

Going to their dairy farm for the first time was like going to an amusement park. The milking machines and the huge tank full of milk were fascinating to my sister and me. If we got there early enough, we got to go up in the barn attic.

Feed was delivered with an auger to the attic and we would climb up there and push it into each feed chute with shovels. We would scream if we saw a mouse but mostly it was fun.

Before milking time, we would often go to the field with Jimmie and get the cows up. His faithful Border Collie, Chloe, would round the cows up, nipping their heels if they didn’t get moving. In the summer, the cows would be waiting outside the holding pen standing under misters to stay cool. In the winter they’d be waiting around munching hay.

When the cows came into the barn, Jimmie always knew each one’s name by her markings and mannerisms. Most were calm and very few were feisty. The best part of going to their barn to milk for a night was at the very end.

During milking, the “flush” tank was filling up with water. At the end of milking, Jimmie would pull a huge lever down with all his weight. Water would splash all the way through the barn cleaning it out. As a 9-year-old kid, I can remember standing along the side and letting the water rush over my barn boots. It was like a grand finale of a job well done.

As a young 4-H’er and later an FFA member, Jimmie helped me start my own small herd of dairy cattle. From embryo transplants to c-section births, I experienced a lot with my own animals. We learned to halter break them for shows. We took them to a few county fairs. Jimmie built us a show box to put our things inside – painted up like a Holstein cow. Later, he made sure I had some extra money from my cows for college too. A night at their house always ended with a bowl Schwan’s ice cream.

Mrs. Coats is retired but she’s helped inspire our 8-year-old’s reading with farm magazines she occasionally sends down this way. My children have experienced the Coats’ dairy farm. What a beautiful place to be a kid and learn to appreciate the hardworking people of the dairy industry.

I salute the men and women of the dairy industry. I think I’ll celebrate with some birthday ice cream this month, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

Jody HarrisEditorial / Opinionsbirthday,childhood,Dairy Farm,dairy month,Jody Harris,juneJune is dairy month. It’s also my birthday month. I have fond memories of the dairy men and women of Wright and Texas counties in Missouri. As a fourth grader, my family and I relocated to Southwest Missouri. My mom went to work as a teacher’s aid in our elementary...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma