I saw a photo of a calf.
I had put a simple post on my personal and farm pages on FB stating that I was seeking a Jersey cow or heifer of breeding age and was messaged by a FB friend in Eastern Virginia whom I have never met in person, casually mentioning that she had a cow available which had come from a farm I am familiar with. I explained the uncertainty of our interest, asked for 24 hours to speak with my husband about his travel schedule and a Jersey cow on a local farm he does business with that I have been interested in for some time that may also be available and expressed my sincere appreciation for her offer.
She agreed and as it was late in the evening, provided me with a photo of her cow’s most recent heifer calf , which she just happened to have on her phone at the time and which was not available, having just sold.
I saw a photo of a calf. A Jersey calf. A Jersey heifer calf. A percentage miniature Jersey heifer calf, her dam being a standard–her sire, a miniature.
I was struck instantly by the resemblance of this calf to my Bibs at that age. Dumbfounded is a better word. I could have been looking at a photo of Bibs two years earlier. I know that seems odd, because it was a calf and it was a random photo of a calf, but I just couldn’t escape that perception.
The owner went on to answer my queries about the available dam of this calf . How old she is, her health , her temperament, etc…all the while I was staring at the photo of the calf. Mesmerized by the calf that was already sold, not able to shake the feeling she looked just like Bibs. I mentioned this feeling to the party I was chatting with. She remarked that Bibs and this calf have similar genes coming from the same Virginia farm lines and it was not unlikely they be similar in appearance. I replied something to the effect of, ” No, they could be clones. I’ve seen a lot of calves from those lines and none of them have looked like Bibs. ”
I verbally mourned missing the opportunity to buy the calf and continued on talking about her available mother.
After discussing her particulars, I asked for the available dam’s name so I could look up photos of her. I was unfamiliar with that particular cow even though I was familiar with the originating farm; her name did not ring a bell. When I saw the registered name of that available cow’s dam I choked on a sob and pushed my chair back from my desk so hard and fast I almost fell over…
She is Sweetie’s first heifer calf born to these lines. Bib’s sister. Tia’s aunt.
Sweetie was the first dairy cow I ever owned. She was the first cow I ever milked on my own farm. She was the gentlest soul–my first bovine love.
Those of you who know me understand what finding this cow means to me and how I will never be able to find adequate words to explain it to those who do not. I never got over losing Sweetie and I never forgave myself for my part in her inability to recover from the worst case scenario milk fever that took her from me despite heroic efforts from our vet and a team of people working around the clock for days. It is the one time I didn’t ask questions before making a change regarding my Jerseys and I will regret it for the rest of my life. Sweetie was my favorite cow. She was a pet. She was a friend.
I mourned Sweetie’s loss so deeply and felt such profound guilt it ate at my spirit. Her absence on this farm is a fixture and often painful entity; hiding around certain corners and pouncing, apparent beneath her favorite shade tree, hovering in the corners of the parlor–a glimpse, a memory, a sound and there she is. I still miss her with all my heart.
I saw a photo of a calf and I knew. Somehow, I knew.
When I first saw the photo of Sweetie’s daughter sent to me after we agreed to purchase her, I cried hot tears, covering my face with hands and telling my husband between shuddering sobs, ” I just didn’t expect her to look so much like Sweetie.” I was , again, floored by the resemblance. Knocked back. He asked if it would upset me having her here and I assured him it would not, that I was profoundly blessed and happy to have found her, I just wasn’t prepared to have her look so much like her mama.
So many factors came together to make her good steward the person who would now sell her to me. This person was not her original owner, nor her second owner…imagine that.
Imagine the complexity of movements it took for me to find the first daughter of a cow I still mourn and regret and whose female offspring I cannot bear to part with. Imagine that I would be FB friends with the person who ultimately ended up buying her and then needed to part with her–someone I have never met–who offered her to me based on a casual post. Imagine that this cow made her way to me through three owners in another state. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe as surely as I believe in God that all things happen for a reason; even the smallest of things.
Sweetie’s daughter is coming home to be with Bibs and Tia and me–here–on this farm–where she will be cherished like her mama is in memory. Here, where she is meant to be.
It amazes and comforts me how intertwined we are with all we love and hold dear. More so than we humble humans can fathom. I am blessed. I am grateful.
Sweetie & Bibs