Friday, March 30, 2012

Her Name Is Peaches

Come friends, and gather 'round... For I have a tale to tell ye' this night...

Five years ago, I had a Boer/Nubian cross goat named Anne. I hated her... Bad tempered, forever getting into trouble, CAE positive, and giving very little milk, I had reason enough to dislike her. I sold Anne, and told myself I would never own another goat ever again. I didn't want to go through that experience another time over. But after a bit of time to heal my wounded feelings and pride, I tried again. This time, everything worked out, and I am now about as crazy about goats as you can possibly get! 

 In October of 2010, I brought home a 12 day old Jersey heifer calf named Poppy. I bottle fed her for five solid months, but for all my efforts, Poppy and I weren't a good fit. She was terrorizing my goats, mistakenly believing that she was one of them. She stomped the goat kids, slammed the older does against the metal barn walls, and jumped on unsuspecting Heidi. I sold Poppy with a vengeance. I told everyone that I would never have a cow again. Those giant, evil creatures were surely out to kill all goats in existence and cripple their owners when they had the chance. Oh yes... I could see them plotting behind those deep brown eyes... 

  But slowly, after many, many months, I began to realize that my feelings towards bovines had changed. Seeing other people enjoying their cows, and working with so many at Polyface Farm had an effect on me. At the beginning of March, it dawned on me: It was time to get a cow and try again.

I began perusing Craigslist every morning to see what was for sale. There were a lot of Jerseys, but after Poppy, I wasn't sure that I wanted to have a Jersey again... Not yet. I researched, read and looked. One breed in particular kept on catching my attention: The Guernsey. A Close cousin to the Jersey, Guernseys give milk that is very similar in butterfat, but the cows themselves are bigger and are a lovely white color with light brown patches. However, Mom really wanted a Jersey, even  if I didn't, so I kept my eyes peeled for both breeds. Even through the animal selling panic I went through during the last couple of weeks, and was basically broke, I still kept hunting for a cow. Some things you just know, and this farm girl knew that it was time to get a cow. It was now or never.

Then it happened: On Thursday the 29th, I found an ad that simply said: "Heifer. 1/2 Guernsey, 1/2 Jersey." Call ***-***-****". That got my attention! A Guernsey/Jersey cross would be perfect! I called the owner up and found that not only was he asking a very good price, but he was close by. I arranged a visit the next day...

Today was the day... I went to see this heifer that had so abruptly consumed my thoughts. I had just bought enough hay and grain to keep the animals quite comfy for the next few months, so my wallet was painfully thin. But I was prepared to haggle for this lady if I liked her. Over the phone, the man had said that she was about 4 months old, and was a little on the thin side since he couldn't afford to feed them adequately right now. I would have preferred an older heifer, but I figured I could at least look at her. 

As we pulled up into the drive way of the small homestead, we automatically knew which one was her. Sharing a field with five similarly aged bull calves, she looked like a lily planted among a hedge of rogue blackberries. She was tiny, feminine, and beautiful... 

   I stepped out of the van and my ears were immediately assaulted with the cacophony of dogs barking. It sounded like we had just pulled up to a pound, there were so many different canines baying from inside a low, dim shed. There was a sign on the gate that boldly stated, "Beware of the dog." I was tempted to scribble the letter "S" at the end. If that was just one dog making that racket, then I'm a monkey's uncle! The owner of the property came walking out after hearing his dogs. Wiry in build with a silvered beard, his ever-so-slightly stooped stance didn't shorten his height any. His voice had an Eastern twang to it; too light to be a Southern drawl, and not enough of an accent to be Oregonian, I guess him to perhaps be from Kentucky or perhaps the Carolinas. 

   He led us into the pasture where I was able to get a closer look at this little lady, and he told us what he knew of her: she came from a productive dairy, where the manager raises registered Guernseys. By some happenstance, whether it was purposeful or not, one cow was bred with a Jersey bull. Not wanting a crossbred in his dairy he gave the little heifer calf away; where she ended up here. As I stepped nearer, I realized just how thin she really was... Her stomach was potbellied and her rump and tail were covered with dried, caked manure. Not only was she not receiving the nourishment she needed, but she had a worm infestation. She needed some groceries, and some valbazen! But looking past her filth and gaunt frame, I saw a lovely little cow. She was very dairy in conformation, and had the most perfect little udder. Her eyes were bright, and she had a lively step; she was as tough as iron to survive the worm load and to share her scant food with five bulls who were larger than she was. While rough, her coat was a beautiful pale caramel hue... Her dark brown eyes and long lashes made her look like a little flirt.

 I began walking towards her, hoping to catch her and further look her over. The dog's voices became louder as I neared their shed, and I wondered just how many must be in there... I looked down momentarily as I stepped through the pasture, and quickly planted my feet where they were. I've seen many things as I've gone to other places in the area, but this was new.

Not five feet away from me, were two horse legs. 

Black in color, with sand shaded hooves, they lay there... Wet from the rain. I scanned the area and near the shed saw the decapitated equine head. Both head and legs showed signs of being chewed, and I realized that this was dog food. The marrow in the legs was still fresh, and small bits of blood still remained on the exposed bone. This horse was alive not too long ago. I wondered where the rest of the body was...

   The younger siblings who had tagged along to see the heifer were noticeably shaken by the sight, and I admit that even I was taken by surprise, but I kept it hidden and focused on the heifer. 

I liked this heifer. I really liked her. If nothing else, she deserved to be taken from this place that she was in. She was a wreck to look at, but I saw potential. We haggled with the owner, but to my dismay I found that his lowest price was above what I could afford right then. But I hated to think of that little calf staying there... She needed someone to get her out of there, and by Jove, I would give it my best to do right by her! Normally I'm terrible at naming animals, but this little lady seemed to have named herself: Peaches. She simply looked like her name should be Peaches.

 So folks, I'm at it again. Will Peaches the cow find herself at Goat Song Farm? Stay tuned and find out!


3 comments:

nancy said...

I hope you can rescue before she becomes dog food, omg, ew....

Mirandandgoats said...

Dear me Caitlyn... you do have yourself a talent for finding neglected animals with incredible potential.... I'll bet $50 you figure out a way to get her home :)
M.

Illinois Lori said...

I'm praying you can get her!
Blessings,
Lori