Sweetie.

I feel the need to share about Sweetie.

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Sweetie was my first dairy cow, the first cow I ever milked on this farm.
I lost Sweetie a few years ago to worst case scenario milk fever despite heroic efforts from our friends, family, our vet and the community of docs he consulted with and treatments that added up to a sum that would have paid most folks bills in their entirety for a month.
It damaged my spirit to lose her ways that I have never gotten over. I feel and likely am partially responsible for her inability to recover, having made what I thought were simple and harmless changes to her mineral regimen. It was the first time I did not ask a mentor / vet before doing something unfamiliar. It will be the last.

I have lost many animals over the course of my life, but few have affected me the way losing Sweetie has.  I still get choked up over her.  I still see her around the farm occasionally.  I envision her under her favorite shade tree, standing in the parlor door before sunrise, hovering over the picnic table where she would beg to share everyone’s lunch.  She still exists here. She still exists in my heart.  Hot tears run as I write this and my throat is clogged with regret, sorrow and self-blame.  I miss that goofy cow like one misses any long time companion, human or animal.sweetie4

I remember everything about the day we brought her home.  We milked her at her former farm and drove all night to be sure to be home before she had to be milked again. She was a very heavy producer.  I brought the machine right onto the trailer when we arrived at our farm and milked her standing there so as not to stress her by forcing her into an unfamiliar stanchion the moment she arrived.

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Sweetie was and remains the mildest tempered cow I have ever met. She cooperated like no other, obliging what I asked of her regardless to whether it was a new or scary ( to cows ) situation.  She literally walked by my side as I did chores, occasionally rubbing her head against me or licking my hand. I jokingly called her ‘ cow dog’ .  Even when she fell ill, she was an attentive, communicative and patient girl.

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sweetie hammock

I had the opportunity several months back to purchase Sweetie’s first calf, a cow called  ‘ Vida ‘.  How Vida came to me is no less than a miracle in my world.  You can read about that in my blog post ‘ Intertwined ‘.   Although I have Sweetie’s second heifer , Bibs, born here and bottle fed by me ,  Vida is number one. Vida is special to me for obvious reasons.  She lacks her mother’s easy going temperament and although she lets me love on her and pet her, she is not anything near the pet Sweetie was, yet she queen of this farm.  I honor her mother’s memory by spoiling and catering to her.

 

Vida is due to calve soon.  I always get excited about an upcoming calf, but never like I have been with this one.  There is something awe inspiring about watching any Jersey cow give birth and attend their baby. They are such awesome mothers and form a true , deep bond with their offspring.  It is an admirable and touching thing to watch a cow nurture their young, mooing in that low , nearly inaudible language that is reserved only for her baby.

Sweetie & Bibs

 

As Vida’s calving approaches, I see more of sweetie in her every day and it both touches my heart and breaks it.

I cannot wait to meet Sweetie’s grandcalf.  I can’t wait to hug and kiss it’s little face.

I can’t wait to tell it stories about it’s grandmother as it waits for it’s mama to leave the milk parlor.

Yes, I realize it will not understand and that it’s more for my benefit than the calf’s, but I will know–Sweetie will know–and I cannot wait.

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