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"The Synthetic Cow" from Red Book

by Ellis Parker Butler
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from Red Book
The Synthetic Cow
by Ellis Parker Butler

Mr. Henry Ford says the time is not far distant -- or at least, some one told me he had read in a newspaper that Mr. Henry Ford, or a man with a name like Ford or McGowan or Utterback, had said that the time was not far distant -- when we will not bother to feed real cows a lot of fodder in order to pump out little dribbles of milk. He said -- this friend who told me that Mr. Ford (or Mr. McGowan or Mr. Utterback or whoever it was) said that before long we would have synthetic cows that would give synthetic milk.

The whole milk situation is becoming so tense, with milk-strikers stopping milk trucks in Iowa and Wisconsin and hither and yon, and dumping the milk in the roads, that the mechanical cow should be hastened to perfection and put on the market as soon as possible. It is not economically efficient to use the muley cow to produce milk for dumping, going to all the trouble of yelling one's head off -- "Co-boss! Co-boss! Co! Co! Co!" -- to get her up from the pasture, milking her into a pail, pouring the milk into a can, driving the milk in a truck to where the strikers are waiting, and having the strikers tire themselves all out dumping the milk.

The synthetic mechanical cow should be made with an inner-combustion self-propelling motor, also a self-starter and steering wheel, balloon tires and a comfortable seat amidships or abaft the neck. I suggest a forty-mile-an-hour speed, so that the hired man can run the cow down to the strikers' lines, dump the milk, and get back home in time for breakfast.

One of the most unsatisfactory features of a milk-striker's life these days is the uncertainty of the arrival of the liquid he has decided to dump on any particular morning. It is absolutely discouraging for a milk-dumper to stand around for hours waiting for a load of Grade A milk to dump, and then discover that the trucks carry nothing but Grade B or cream.

A properly designed mechanical cow will do away with this uncertainty and make the milk-striker's life brighter and happier. On the instrument-board just back of the ears the push-buttons will be marked plainly, "B" for buttermilk. "C" for cream, "GA" for Grade A.

"Well, George," the hired man will say to the striker, "what kind of milk an you dumping this morning?"

"It is kind of you to ask, Henry," the striker will say. "I had sort of set my mind on dumping Grade B this morning."

"Grade B it is then, George," Henry will say; and with that he will put the cow in neutral, step on the milk-producing pedal, and push the GB button.

I am going to suggest to the inventor of the synthetic mechanical cow -- as soon as I can find out who he is -- one additional button that I think will be mighty useful. This will have the letter "A" on it, and when it is pressed with the thumb, asphalt will flow out upon the road. A mechanical cow can give asphalt as readily as milk if its internal arrangements are properly made, and by dumping asphalt instead of milk, the milk-strikers would soon have all the roads in fine condition.

But let me warn my readers not to order a synthetic cow yet. My cousin Oscar heard that synthetic cows were on the market, and he wrote to his milk agent to send him one, and the milk agent misread the letter and thought Oscar had written "sympathetic" cow and the cow he sent Oscar follows my cousin all over the place, weeping on his neck. Weeping copiously, too.



Saturday, October 07 at 1:13:04am USA Central
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