June 7, 2022 at 2:31 p.m.

Lending comfort with stuffed cows

Lending comfort with stuffed cows
Lending comfort with stuffed cows

By Carol [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Family, farming was important to rural Albany man

Missy, Michelle, Kelli and Alex Malley hugged stuffed cows May 17 in the music room at Albany Area Elementary School. These weren’t just any stuffed animals. They were made out of clothes worn by their dad, Alphonse “Al,” including his favorite shirts and farm caps.  

Mom Lynn smiled when she saw the 16 stuffed cows lined up in the room, knowing they would lend comfort to her family because of the fondness her husband of almost 15 years had for the dairy farm, where, on this day, oldest son Kyle is doing chores. 

“Al loved is cows, loved his tractors, loved his kids,” Lynn said on June 2. “He even had pet cows he loved.” 

Life was about family and the farm for Al, 47, who passed away Oct. 28, 2021, at their home in Albany Township, following a battle with cancer.  

“When we were dating, he told me he had to have a reason to farm and that reason was getting married and having kids,” Lynn said. “That was the highlight of his life.”  

Al lived his entire life on that century farm, helping with chores and eventually running the farm while he was still in high school, talking it over from his parents, Alphonse, Sr., and Lucille (Rakotz) Malley. 

“He didn’t have any other options because his dad got sick. He never worked outside of the farm and felt like he had to keep the family farm running,” said Lynn who Al married Nov. 18, 2006.

Lynn was raised on a dairy farm in rural New Munich, the daughter of Hugo and Virginia Massmann. 

“I always said we met in Farming, and Al said it was in Lake Henry,” she said.

Once married, the two worked together, whether it was in the barn or in the field, milking 100 cows and farming 200 acres of oats, corn and alfalfa. 

“Field work, milking cows, mixing feed. I even helped him pump the pit out,” Lynn said.

They had disagreements when it came to farming, like how to feed calves. 

“We got along really well,” she said, adding in her light-hearted manner, “I’d tease the heck out of him.”

Al liked milking and doing fieldwork, especially tractor driving, she said, but he hated picking rocks. 

If there was a farm equipment or hay auction, chances are Al was there. He’d get up early in the morning to do chores so he would make it to the auction in time. 

“I swear he went to every auction,” she said. 

Al also got up early if there was fieldwork to do and rain was forecasted. 

“He told me his dad said if there was one thing that he would quit farming over it was because of the weather. You could never justify what the weather was because you can’t control it,” Lynn said. 

Al treasured time with his family, and he loved hanging out with friends, “socializing at the bar,” and driving around the countryside, Lynn said. He enjoyed dancing to music like The Johnny Holm Band and playing cards.

“It saddened him when he couldn’t go,” Lynn said.  

His cancer diagnosis blindsided them, but he fought it with a positive attitude and support from family and friends.   

It was back in 2017 when Al started doctoring for what he initially thought was the flu, and he ended up having his appendix removed. That’s when a large tumor was found. The cancer had spread to his colon. Surgery and chemotherapy followed. Scans determined his cancer was continuing to spread. They went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where a 14-17 hour surgery was performed that Lynn said “settled down his cancer for a few months.” 

But the cancer continued to spread. After 50 days in the hospital in Rochester he returned home to the farm.  

“He could do the fieldwork but not at full capacity,” Lynn said.

He had a cow crowd gate installed in the barn with a goal of watching it work, but he passed away before that.

“He can see it. He’s around here,” Lynn said.

After his death unusual things started happening around the farm, like a possum and pigeons in the garage. And Lynn is not a fan of pigeons. 

“I told Al, ‘You’re torturing me. If you want to come back, come back as something else,’” she said.

Al’s imprint is found all over the Malley family farm, where the fields have been planted this spring and the cows are milked twice a day. Lynn, who also works at the Melrose Post Office, does the evening milking with a hired man milking in the morning. Their children also pitch in. Lynn knows Al, who she fondly calls “Dad,” would be happy the farming tradition continues on the Malley farm.  

So what would Al think of the stuffed cows made out of his clothes and caps?

“He’d probably say ‘that’s crazy,’” Lynn said.

The idea to make stuffed animals out of Al’s clothes came about because Albany school staff, who teach the Malley children, wanted to do something for the family. Lynn suggested they make stuffed cows out of Al’s clothes and hats. 

A pattern was developed and the volunteer sewers, some who knew the Malleys and some who did not, spent a couple of days cutting, sewing and stuffing the cows in Diane Noll’s garage in rural Albany.

Now these gifted cows are lending comfort to the Malley family whose husband and dad lived for family and farming. 


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