Losing Lady

This week has been an incredibly difficult week. My very favorite cow of all time went down last Tuesday morning.

In March of 2013, my family and I went to visit a commercial dairy. The conditions were pretty much what I expected with hundreds of cows housed on concrete. The odor of manure was everywhere. However, we left there with a lovely Jersey milk cow in the trailer. The kids and I were excited that we could take one cow from the dairy and hopefully give her a happier, more natural life.

My cow was all I’d hoped for and more. She patiently submitted to our putting a halter on her and milking her. Everything was new and scary for her, but she never balked. She just simply allowed us to do what needed doing and in time, she adjusted to her new home. Because she was so gentle, so quiet, and so genteel, I named her Lady. She was definitely a real lady.

Over the next few months, I fell deeper in love with my cow. Her personality meshed very well with mine. She was quiet and calm and just as sweet as could be. She loved being scratched under her chin, and she would approach me from the fields to get some loving. I’d save special treats, like apple cores or banana peels from the kitchen for her.

Lady became my friend. I looked forward to seeing her each day, and I like to think that she looked forward to seeing me. Whenever I’d glance out toward the fields, I’d check to see what Lady was doing, where she was, and were the big, old, mean beef cows pushing her around.

While I already had one Jersey cow, Blossom, she just didn’t fit with me like Lady did. She isn’t affectionate, and she doesn’t seek out people. I guess you could say we have a strictly business relationship. I feed her; she lets me milk her from time to time.

In late December, Lady gave me a heifer calf. I was thrilled. Out of the four Jersey calves that have been born on our farm, three of them have been bull calves. Finally, I got a girl! We named the baby Holly, since she was born so close to Christmas.

Last Tuesday, I found Lady lying on her side in her stall, convulsing. I treated her for everything I could think of, but she never got back up. She knew I was there, and she tried to eat and drink for me, but on Saturday, she nibbled at the last bit of hay and drank her last drop of water.

Lady died Monday morning on a lovely spring day.

I’ve had people tell me that they’d never be able to farm because losing an animal would hurt to bad.

Honestly, right now it does hurt. I hate that I lost my friend. I miss her terribly. However, I’ve heard it said that the only way to be sure of never losing a cow is to never have any. For me, that’s too high of a price.

I like cows too much. I wouldn’t go back and not have Lady, even though it ended so sadly.

For Lady, I think it was the best year of her life. She got to live as a normal cow, grazing in a herd, on nice green grass. She received the affection of a family, and she got to eat a varied diet. Lady got to have a calf and mother it, something I doubt she was ever able to do before.

That’s something I can take comfort in. I did all that I could for Lady and, even to the end, I was with her and she knew it.


Published on Mar 12, 2014

Grit Magazine

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