A New Cow on the Family Farm

An Iowa woman recounts how her family farm's first cow escaped and had to be recaptured

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We were going to get our first cow! Were we ever excited. Jake, my husband, had made a deal with Joe, the fellow he worked for, for a cow. So much of his wages each week would go toward the cow, which he would bring home once she was paid for.

We already had a dozen chickens and now the cow. Maybe we could get our own family farm yet.

The day finally came when our cow was coming home. We were all waiting when Joe drove up and they unloaded the cow and put her in the barn.

The next question the kids had was, "What are we going to name her?" To me Bossy seemed too common, so we finally decided on Lady.

We had a lovely big yard full of green grass, and I thought that she should be outside. But Jake said, "I'll be home tomorrow and then we'll put her out and I can watch her better."

I felt bad, but not knowing much about cows I thought I'd better do what Jake said, though I thought I had enough sense to take care of a cow.

It was close to the Fourth of July. We could hear firecrackers popping and there was a picnic coming up. I figured I had better start planning what to fix. First I decided to go get the mail.

As I sat under the trees reading the mail, I thought, "It's such a beautiful day I am going to let Lady out. It's so nice I'll let her eat grass while I read the mail."

I found a rope and tied it around her neck and led her out of the barn. She rolled her eyes and gave a soft moo, as if to say "Thank you."

The children soon tired of watching Lady eat and found other things to do.

Somehow Joey found a firecracker and managed to light it.

Lady gave a start, kicked up her heels and took off down the road.

I ran as hard as I could after her but she had disappeared. Boy, was I in for it. What was I going to do? My nearest neighbor was a half-mile down the road. Maybe Lady was there with his cows.

I cautioned the children to stay out of the road and to watch while I went to see. I had to get Lady home before Jake got home. He would be furious.

I started down the road when a car stopped. I wanted to run when a voice said, "Lady, do you know where... ?" I looked at the car real close because that voice sounded like Pop. It couldn't be. He was in Iowa. It was Pop and Mom! They were driving out to see their son in Oregon and decided to look me up.

I explained what had happened and Pop said, "Don't worry now. We'll go see if we can find the cow."

Mom took over the children and started lunch. We found Lady with the neighbor's cows. Pop helped me lead her up the road and we put Lady in the barn.

We went in to eat but Bobby, my 3-year-old, was missing. We called and called. Finally we found him asleep in the pasture. He had tried to follow me down the road by going through the pasture. He had gotten tired, sat down and dropped off to sleep.

Finally, everyone accounted for, we had our lunch and a nice visit, despite a bad beginning. I wondered if I would ever be a good farmer's wife.

Evelyn Williams-Hall
Sioux City, Iowa


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.