Sunday, March 6, 2011

One Divine Bovine

Every so often, I find myself thinking of the one that got away after leaving such an indelible impression on my heart. Maybe you've had a similar experience - wondering where that special someone is, what your life would be like if she was still in it, and how many heifers she had.  Yes, that's right, I'm talking about a cow. 

My special cow was a Belted Galloway named Evergreen Hydrangea. I met her while I was at the University of Maine.  She was donated as a calf to the Witter Farm's beef program.  She had some of the best genetics in the country and was structurally sound, too.  I helped show "Gea" as a yearling and again as a two-year-old. She placed second in her class at the Eastern States Exposition Belted Galloway show when she was two.  I still have the ribbon, and looking at it reminds me how hard I worked in the ring in an attempt to get her to the top.

Gea had an amazing disposition not only for a Beltie, but for a beef heifer in general.  She was quite docile and always approached the fence when I called her. Of course, she quickly retreated if I did not have my usual treat: a handful of grain.

After an unplanned pregnancy (a much shorter but apparently much-determined Inkberry knocked her up), Gea calved in at just over two years of age with a bull calf that I named Jujube.  Following Jujube's birth, the farm made the decision to flush Gea to maximize her genetic impact.  She responded very well to the treatment yet a horizontal bend in her cervix prevented university staff from completing retrieval of the embryos. I was devastated since her genetic potential would not be fully realized.

Soon after I graduated, Witter Farm experienced several changes and the farm's Belted Galloways were sold at the Northeast Livestock Exposition's purebred sale. I was not aware Gea was included until a few days before the sale so I didn't have enough time to discuss housing and finances or future herd plans with my father. I had no choice but to let her go. I don't know where she went (I could not even make a trip home for the auction), but I hope she has been providing someone with adorable and agreeable heifer calves, and more importantly, that she lived or is living a long and happy life filled with plenty of green grass, hay and handfuls of grain.

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