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Spotty the Milk Cow

Dad, Spotty the milk cow and others at feeding time

      When I was younger we had a lot of cattle but only a few became special pets, one of these was Spotty the Holstein.

      I was six years old when Spotty first arrived on our farm, a big black and white beauty. I was gushing with excitement, a real milk cow, the rest of our herd were all stock cows. I could hardly wait for milk fresh from our own cow Maybe if I was lucky dad would teach me how to milk her! Dad told me I was to young to milk a cow. He would always tell me things like that back then, I remember being extremely disappointed.

      When I was ten the neighbor kids and I used to roam the farms together lacking anything else to do. When we would wander out into the pasture Spotty would paw the ground throwing dirt over her back. She would lower her head and snort. I recall the fear that would pucker our stomachs and shake our knees until our boots rattled. We all gave Spotty a wide berth back then.

      At fifteen I began to show cattle at fairs, I had no experience in breaking cattle to lead and was having little success until I read an article in the paper about a man that used a donkey to break his show cattle. Then an idea hit me Spotty was halter-broke! After that I had little trouble breaking cattle to lead, I would just tie the unbroken bovine to Spotty's halter, lead them up and down the road and in no time at all they were leading like they were born to it. This gave me immense satisfaction and I never missed a chance to brag to whomever would listen.

      One day, when I was twenty one, I had been breaking heifers to lead. I had tired of this activity and tied Spotty to the windmill so she could eat the tall grass that was growing in that vicinity. I jumped on the 4010 to mow the roadside. When I returned Spotty was nowhere in sight, I shut the tractor off then this eerie sound hung in the air "MOOOOOOOO!" It came from the direction of the well! I sprang off the tractor and sprinted to the well. There was Spotty hanging by her hindquarters on a pipe that ran across the well. MMOOOOOOOOO!!!

      Our scoop tractor had been pressed into service cultivating, so I couldn't use that to lift her out of the well. I knew the neighbor, Dixon Terry, had a scoop on his tractor so I raced to my car, a trusty Ford Maverick, and rushed to his farm. I told him what had happened and that I needed his scoop tractor to rescue Spotty. He rushed to his tractor and came to help as quickly as a WD Allis would run.

      When we arrived, at the well, we found the pipe had broken and the only thing we could see of Spotty was her nose barely sticking out of the water. Water gushed out of the broken pipe, which came from another well, filling the well more all the time, I shut off the pump at the other well as Dixon climbed into the well to secure a chain around Spotty's neck to prevent her nose from going under water.

      I rushed to the house, called the tow truck in Stuart and explained "I had a cow In the well and I wanted them to come pull her out."

      The man on the other end of the phone remarked lazily, "It will be two or three hours before we can get out to your place."

      I exclaimed excitedly, "She is still alive and I am trying to save her!"

      The voice on the phone perked up noticeably, "I'll be right out!"

      The tow truck arrived with a roar and a thick cloud of dust, they backed up, swung a boom over the well and in a moment Spotty was suspended in the air by her neck. They laid her gently on the ground and unhooked their cable. Poor old Spotty just laid there and shivered violently. I called the veterinarian and described what had happened. He came out gave Spotty a shot and prescribed a shot of the same stuff every day for a week.

      Spotty recovered pretty well except she had a limp that just wouldn't go away. One morning my Dad started running around the house yelling, "Balloons! Balloons!" Out of the south came an army of hot air balloons, over the ridge and right over the pasture. SSHHHUUUU!! their burners fired over the pasture. The cows were all convinced this was some new kind of cow-eating dragon so they tried to escape, running in a frenzied panic from one end of the pasture to the other bellering all the way at the top of their voices. After that Spotty never limped again.

      Spotty lived on for a few good years until she died giving birth to twins one spring, she was 19. I recall feeling a hollowness in the pit of my stomach, a genuine sense of loss at her passing. Over the years, Spotty had turned out to be a real pet.

My Dad
(He looks just like me!)

© Copyright 1999, 2000 Randy Stamper

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