Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Snowball, The Personality Plus Cow

One of the cows that I moved from Parry Sound to Addison was Snowball.  At that point Snowball was just a pregnant yearling heifer, so the six hour trip on the back of tractor trailer didn't much affect her.  Actually come to think of it, none of the forty head were any the worse for their long voyage.  I still recall the truck pulling up that night, shortly before midnight.  I had the barnyard all fenced and prepared to receive the girls.  In the moonlight, each cow slipped off the ramp into the fresh, foggy, September evening.  The few little ones, had been partitioned off in the front of the truck, so were bawling and glad to be reunited with their mommas.

Snowball came from a long line of cattle that had been in our family.  Her great great grandmother, Pansy was a little Ayrshire cross cow, that Dad had had originally in the milking herd.  I don't recall much about Pansy, other than that she met her demise in the barn, the victim of a lightning strike.  Dad dragged her dead carcass back into the bush (dead stock removal and burial were unheard of in those days - we just referred to the rotting carcasses as wolf-bait).

Pansy's daughter Sally was a blocky little red, white faced cow, sired by a Hereford bull. Sally's most unforgettable feature was her thick curling horns, which curled round her ears and threatened to reenter her skull.

Sally's daughter, Sandy, was a beautiful blonde white faced cow, sired by the first Simmental bull in our area in the late 1970's.  Sandy's claim to fame was the fact that over the course of her long productive life, she birthed and raised no less than three sets of twins, quite a remarkable feat for a cow.


Sandy's daughter, Blondie was much like her mother but no real remarkable features, except for the fact she became mother to Snowball.


As a young cow, Blondie did not appear to be a very productive milker so in an attempt to inject some lactating ability into the line, I bred her artificially to a Milking Shorthorn sire.  The result was a nearly white heifer calf, that was quickly dubbed Snowball.  The first time I saw Snowball was the week I was recovering from having my wisdom teeth dredged from my jaws by a surgeon.  I was pretty heavily medicated, but I wanted to see if any of the cows had reproduced (several were due) and sure enough, there was Blondie proudly displaying her very striking offspring.

The next summer, was the summer I met my better half and decided to move to Eastern Ontario.  I had a young Limousin bull running with the herd, and unknown to me, nine month old, Snowball and he had a brief liason, which basically left me with a pregnant adolescent.

By midwinter, after the move, it was obvious that Snowball was in a maternal way.  I was concerned because she was only about 18 months of age and not particularly well grown at that.  Fortunately I was around the morning she decided to produce her illicit lovechild.  I worried needlessly, it was a quick and relatively easy delivery.  She was quickly on her feet, maternal instincts very much intact.  From the first protective bellow, I knew this was a young cow not to be trifled with.

Our Snowball as a mature cow.
She and I developed an understanding early on, that I was boss, but I fear I was the only one who gained this respect.  My dearly beloved was intimidated by our little roan cow.  Snowball knew she had her beaten, and took advantage of every opportunity to show her aggression.  It was usually just a short head-long charge and a snort, but on a good day, it could be a good solid head bunt.  Usually a bellow out of me stopped her in her in mid tracks.  She was particularly interesting if her head was in the manger and you were pitching hay.  She would inevitably hit you a head butt and then look at you with nothing short of a twinkle in her eye.

She did make visits interesting once our daughters arrived.  She didn't seem to be particularly aggressive toward them, but we were always cautious.  But she had only to spy my wife, and out came the nastiness.

When we would drop hay from the mow into the manger below, my eldest daughter loved to be dropped the few feet onto the soft pile of hay.  More than once her little bottom made contact with Snowball's snout, who would promptly toss her across to the other side of the manger, onto another pile of hay.  Of course my wife lived in mortal terror that Snowball would hurt our little one, but it seemed more of a game than anything else.

We kept Snowball until we sold the entire herd, and then she paddled off on the truck with her mates.  I've often wondered if she went into another herd, and if so did her terrorism continue with new victims?

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

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