The SuperBowl commercial where the man raises the baby Clydesdale and people cry…we’ve lived it. Only it was a cow and we didn’t sell it to a famous beer company.
Being raised in small town rural in Arkansas with family who raised cattle, we’ve seen a lot of things. We’ve helped deliver baby calves who were a little stuck, bottle fed the ones who lost their mama, and had a few as pets along the way. One of my personal favorites was Snowy.
Snowy was born one frigid winter night about 25 years ago. It was the middle of an ice storm when her mama went into labor, down in the creek, of course. I was lucky enough to avoid the birth itself, but was home when they drove up right to the door and called for me to come help. They had a tiny little solid white calf in the back seat of the Ford Granada. (we were stylin’)
We took the calf in the house and made a little place in the entrance hall with newspapers, space heaters and old blankets. We really didn’t expect her to make it. We slowly dried her with the hair dryer, because her little hooves had been frozen to the ground. The Mama cow had been so traumatized in the creek that night and she refused to nurse and we were left with a sickly baby calf. It wasn’t the first time but this calf was different.
Dad milked the cow and brought some colostrum and the bottle feeding began. Joy was little and she did the majority of the feedings. She loved having a big dog like creature in the house for a few days. Once Snowy was able to leave, we moved her to the barn. We continued the bottle feedings and Joy would slip her cookies, breads, and cakes as she could. Snowy grew to look forward to seeing Joy and getting a treat.
Once the spring weather came, Snowy was out and about in our yard. She played like the dogs that we had in our family. She would run and chase and loved to be chased. She spent the first six months of her life thinking she was a dog. Joy continued to love her and feed her sweet treats daily. We had lots of fun with that crazy calf.
The one drawback to this situation was that Snowy acted like a dog. She ran to everyone and nuzzled with excitement. This was cute unless she knocked you down or decided to chase you around the yard. It was a pretty funny sight to watch her chase people, especially our mom. She loved to chase Mom most of all, running her around the trees almost every day. She also would fight you to get to any groceries before you could get them in the house. More than once she ripped a bag of groceries from my hand and ran with them. (Mom hated this the most) She even found that trash cans sometimes held a surprise or two and they weren’t safe with her around. After about a year, Mom had had enough. She had to go to the pasture with the rest of the cows.
It was sad but we saw her often. When Snowy heard Joy’s voice as we drove up, she would run as fast as she could to the truck. Joy still took treats and Snowy still at them. Girl Scout cookies were a favorite.
Years passed and Joy grew up and into various activities. No matter how much time passed, Snowy still recognized her voice. Sometimes she would think I was Joy and be really disappointed when she got close enough to see that it was me. She forgave me if I had a treat.
I told my students about Snowy one day when we were working on writing assignments. They couldn’t imagine a cow as a pet. They wanted to know more about her and if I still saw her. What happened with Snowy?
Snowy went on to have several calves of her own. Joy graduated and moved away to college but Mom and Dad still treated her often. One day Dad called us and told us that if we wanted to go say goodbye to her, it needed to be soon. Joy had spotted it a while back but it had progressed quickly. She had cancer and there was nothing to be done.
Growing up on a farm you wouldn’t think you would cry over a cow, but we all did. I felt a little silly going to say goodbye to a cow but I did and gave her a whole box of cookies. We all said our farewells to her and the weekend came for Dad to load her up and take her away. When they drove up, she was not anywhere in the pasture. No amount of calling or honking brought her out. Assuming she had already passed on, they left. A few days later, Dad drove up and Snowy wandered out of the woods. I guess it wasn’t her time before but this day it was. We spent that weekend crying over Snowy.
She came and went on her own time. I don’t have any pictures of her with me that I can scan, but have some of Dad’s other pets. The one he is bottle feeding is his latest baby, Ellie Mae. It’s several years old now and still a huge baby. People were afraid he would be feeding her a bottle when she had her own calf, if he ever allowed that to happen.
And, as close as we get to Clydesdales….
I guess that’s why we found the commercial extra touching. I wonder if most people with livestock do.