Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life

I've never asked for much, and somehow, I've always gotten away with plenty. Guess you could say I've been lucky like that. 
Except for that terribly cold winter about ten or so years ago. Now, that was rough on an old gal like me. But I made it through, always have. It’s strange to look across this land and study how much it’s changed in the last sixteen years. Countless sunrises and sets. 
Perhaps now is a good time for me to introduce myself; I'm WV Rosewood PR 107, proudly born in thistle-filled woods on the old WonderView Farm outside Jacksonburg, Indiana during the spring of 1990. I was only there four years before I took a ride across the countryside.
I was one of three cows that unloaded at Bowman Superior Genetics that particular day during the fall of 1994. I’d like to think Betsy, Janice and myself are the real “foundation females” of the program Bowmans have going now, whether we made it onto the website or not. We were the first of many, and we set the bar. We never stepped foot in a show ring, but we sure performed.  And of the three of us, I’m the lone soul that still grazes these rolling hills. 

It’s strange, I still remember the first face I saw when they opened the trailer door the morning we arrived. That boy with the blonde flat top had such a smile on his face - he was so excited to welcome us; he gave his proud Dad two thumbs up.

It sure didn’t take long for me to realize: I was home.
I’ve come to treasure a lot of little moments like that over the years; there are more than I can recall at this point in my life. In fact, some times I find myself spending an entire day just thinking back. My bones ache, but I’m in a cozy pen under the old bank barn tonight; I suppose now is as good a time as ever to reminisce about those days of past......

December 1994
My first winter at the new farm. It’s refreshing to see how thrilled the kids are to come up and give us our feed and hay. I know we’re still new and exciting to them; I just hope that passion and excitement they have for cows today will never leave this place. It’s a nice facility, but I can tell they haven’t owned it long. I hear Phil talking often about the changes coming to the buildings and ground. I’m uncommonly anxious to know what lies ahead.

Spring 1998
There is something going on under the old bank barn that I don’t quite agree with. They wean our calves off of us then put them in pens under that barn and treat them like royalty. Fancy sweet feeds and fans and sometimes I even hear blow dryers running. How are these kids supposed to learn to survive hot summers and frigid winters when they’re up there getting cream conditioner rinses? They halter those steers and walk them around the barn lot, parading them in circles like a piece of meat - literally.   Why, they should be ashamed of themselves. Maybe I’m just bitter my day for all that has passed, but I have a very hard time supporting something that I don’t fully understand. My, how times have changed around this place...

Summer 1999
The herd is growing. This whole place is growing. There are trailers in and out, loading and unloading. Barbed wire fences are being ripped out and replaced by electric. Not my choice, but I’ve never been one to push the limits, anyhow. 

I’m glad for the Bowmans. I suppose this hustle and bustle means they’re doing well - and that we’re doing well for them. This year’s first cutting of hay smells just perfect as the breeze innocently carries the scent our way. We have plenty of grass, but if I had to guess, I’d say one of these young guns in my pasture will try something stupid soon, since we’re behind only one temporary fence wire. 

Young heifers:
Old enough to know better 
but still too young to care. 

Fall 2000
I tried to help the kid, I really did. Luke left the water hydrant on again last night. That boy sure loves us, but for whatever reason he tries to flood us out about three times a year. I bawled at him when I realized he was walking to the barn with out shutting it off. He didn’t even turn around. His mother sure threw a fit this morning when she realized what he’d done. With all he has going on his senior year, sometimes I think it goes in one ear and out the other.  

Winter 2001
I wouldn’t say I necessarily enjoy this process, but it does bring value to my own life. Tonight I’ll have my seventh calf on this farm; I have a hard time believing that, myself. While I don’t particularly enjoy the pain that naturally comes along, I sure appreciate the result and the feeling of reassured purpose.  I’ll provide another animal to the herd, and Phil always makes sure my babe and I are both going strong the next morning. It’s a nice feeling knowing you’re appreciated for the work you do. 

Summer 2002
Summer on the farm - my favorite time of year. Grass sure is plentiful and the streams provide cool, clean water we love. It’s back to days like this that my mind will drift when the winter winds blow the hair on my neck and I find my entire back snow covered. This will be my first summer with out Janice. My, how sad I was to see her go. But every cow is here for a purpose, brought on by a reason. There comes a certain peace to my heart when I remember that. She did amazing work; simply put: her day had passed. We came on to this land together; she was older than I, and I sure don’t feel like my production days are anywhere close to coming to an end. So long, old friend. 
Summer 2003
Well, I’ve just seen it all. The younger Bowman kids spent the afternoon hurling pitchforks and aerosol cans at one another over something that concerned the Indiana State Fair. I didn’t catch the details; I had just come to the main tank for water and heard all the commotion. Being one to never miss much in the last 10 years, I made the trip up the hill to get a better view from between the silos. Luke has a heck of an arm on him and Lindsay can certainly hold her own. I must say, they’re quite senseless when it comes to loading a livestock trailer. Of course I guess that happens when you’re loading hair dryers, super strong hair spray and fancy leather halters. Please, don’t get me started...

Fall 2007
Try as I may, I always struggle with this time of year: Weaning Week. I know it’s coming, I know it must be done and I understand the reason for it. But my heart aches for my child and I wish I could relay to them that everything will be alright. Sometimes kids just have to find out on their own, I suppose. Year after year, I want to let them know their time in the corral won’t last long, and they should be grateful they’re even being taken care of in such a wonderful way. It’s part of life for all of us, I guess. At some point you have to learn to let go. And it's in that moment, the one when you don't want your baby running back to you, it's then that you want them to remember the roots you provided to them, and to use the wings you instilled in them. 

Isn't that what this life is about - Roots and Wings?

Spring 2009
Unlike some, I never minded this furthest back pasture; I love how it is so far removed from the beaten path. From here I’ve watched many semis rush across I-70; unfortunately, I’ve even seen a few bad accidents on this stretch of road. The sirens always scare the babes and they take off in a rush, tails flying every which way. Other than that, it's quiet and rolling and simple. There is a tree up there, along the eastern fence row, that intrigues me. For whatever reason this tree always attracts the eye of the youngest Bowman, Lindsay. When she was just a young girl, she'd give that tree a little wave when she’d walk back and check on us. I always wished I had a way of telling her it’s just a tree, one that can’t hear or see you - but as with most things, I just let it be.

May 8, 2010 
Phil and Linda didn’t have to tell me why they got me up from the pasture tonight and put me under this old barn. I’ve been on this farm sixteen full years and I have served my exact purpose: Fifteen calves. They even let me stay around an extra year to ensure my production days are over. Thank you, Linda.  My teeth are gone and that sure makes it hard to eat and maintain my weight. Though my time here at Bowman Superior Genetics is coming to an end, I have to say - I’m thankful they’re shipping me away now, before I get in bad shape. Twenty years isn’t bad for a cow this day and age; in fact, it’s pretty darn great. I’m proud to be a part of a program such as this, one with mighty humble beginnings. They’ve certainly come a long, long way since I got off that trailer in the fall of 1994. I’ve seen folks from all over the country come here to evaluate my brood, and proudly stood in the background admiring our own successes. I can honestly say I'm glad they moved away from glue and blowers and paint, and focus now on the production, promotion on longevity of our Shorthorn breed. It's painfully important to realize why we're produced in this country: to feed the world. 

It's incredibly easy to be happy when you're part of a team you believe in. 

May 9, 2010
I still haven't come to the realization that this day is here. They're backing the trailer up to load me off this old farm; I can hear the diesel engine growl and the trailer door being propped open. I suppose this is the last time I’ll ever stand in this historic bank barn and look out across the pastures. My goodness, friends - time sure passes quickly; remember that. I think back to Luke as a little boy on the day I arrived and it seems like one hundred years ago but yesterday, all at the same time. The excitement on his face from sixteen years ago is now replaced with sadness, and he’s moving with great hesitation. Of course, I'm not able to tell them thank you for all they've given to me, or that I whole-heartedly understand the reason why this is happening or that I knew this day would come; I can only cooperate. 

And that.........that, is exactly what I do. 
I’m thankful for the opportunity 
and for the faith they had in me all these years.

And I'm proud of the work done well. 


  1. That is a wonderful life indeed!

  2. I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face reading this! Very well written! We have an old one at our house too!

  3. Beautiful. Um, we had a few pitchforks thrown in our time too! :-)

  4. What a great perspective! Something every 8 year old should read the night they unload their first heifer.

  5. Nice story but it is so real for all cattle people

  6. I love how you write!! You create lovely pictures in my mind as your words come alive in your writing. I loved the story of your first heifer and her life experiences as a mother. (I'm sitting at my computer with tears puddling in my eyes) I always dreamed that one day I would pick up a great book and find that it was authored by one of my former kdg.students. I'll be watching and waiting for your first book signing.

  7. Love this story. I grew up on a dairy farm, so I could relate to this. You are an artist with words, Lindsey! I love the way your writing brings out emotions. I look forward to seeing where you go in life. I knew when you were in second grade that you had something special going on in your young mind.:)

  8. I so love to read your stories. This is a fav. I really think this story should be a book and every 4-H kid needs a copy. I love how your writings come to life. I can't stop reading once I start.