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Archive for December, 2011

Along the first week of December every year, around the time of her birthday, my mind drifts back to memories of a little cow named Peaches. She was my first registered Holstein, my first show cow beyond 4-H, and believe it or not, one of my dearest friends growing up.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the life lessons I learned growing up on the farm, and a lot of those came from owning Peaches and other cows after her. Animals teach us so many things beyond just their care and feeding…lessons in┬áresponsibility, trust, compassion, patience, life and death. So today I’ll celebrate her birthday 20 years ago, remembering all the experiences shared with the little cow with the big personality.

How many cows do you know that got birthday parties? Peach did.

Peach's 1st birthday. She got to come in for a special birthday dinner every year. She was spoiled. ROTTEN.

I learned to fit really fit cattle when I got Peaches. She's pictured here at our county fair as a Winter Yearling in 1993. (That's me saying "No, no! Not the topline!!)

At the county fair the same year. It was our first of many showmanship wins. Peach had this style that borderlined arrogance when she walked into the show ring.

Peaches 2nd birthday. She almost took the pail of grain out of my friend Cindy's hands right after I snapped this photo! (Patience was not a virtue when it came to her food...she LOVED grain.)

Peaches with her first calf, a bull named Poncho. Mom swore Peach was waiting me to get home from school that day; Poncho was born about 5 minutes after I made it down to the barn.

Peaches as a 2 year old at the county fair. She always seemed to have an entourage.

Our 2nd Grand Champion honor, 1994

Peaches was a regular in our show string. Our trucker, Randy, called her the American Express cow because we couldn't leave home without her. She would hear him pull in and would be waiting at the gate before he could even park the trailer. Here she's pictured, 3rd from the left, with our district show string.

Several bouts with acute mastitis in her younger years had taken their toll on her udder and I hadn't shown Peach since she was a 4 year old. But she was ok as a dry aged cow, so we went for one last hurrah at the 2000 Spring Holstein Show before her official retirement.

Peaches in the spring of 2001 (note the gate at the milk barn door--a master escape artist, everything at the farm had to be "Peaches-Proofed"). This was shortly after she had what would be her last calf, a heifer I named Randi. The little heifer was named in honor of our longtime trucker Randy who had recently lost his battle with cancer. We would get devestating news about Peach shortly after this photo, when she was diagnosed with bovine leukemia.

Peaches lived out her last days in leisure, a retirement she so rightly deserved. She basically had free run of the farm, but would spend most of her time by the fence with her girls.

We knew Peaches would let us know when it was time to go. The day this photo was taken, she had been unable to get up and we made the painful decision that it was time to call the vet. Because she was not in distress, we opted to give her til the next day. That night, wanting one last picture with my best girl, I tearfully took my camera to the barn and decided I would sit with her like I had done countless times before. Always a camera hound, Peach's ears perked up when she saw me walk in, and with a fiercely determined look in her eyes, she struggled to her feet. I screamed for Mom, my sister and our friend Kali (who was working for us at the time), who all came running surely fearing the worst. There wasn't a dry eye when they saw Peach had made it to her feet. Chores immediately stopped as we snapped every picture we could before dark that night of our beloved little cow. Peaches left us 2 days later, but I will never forget this night.

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