Thursday, September 11, 2014

About a Cow - A Story

I read this story today, as written by Nancy Petersen, and thought you might like it.

Photo by Nancy Petersen
All Rights Reserved

"About a cow:

Milking Angus

I can hear it now, “what the devil?” Angus? They are not milk cows! Well it all got started when the neighbor purchased 4 what he was led to believe were Black Angus calves from someone in a valley some distance from us. Once he got them home and observing them over the next couple weeks, it became apparent they were in fact a cross of some variety. In disgust, he offered them to us for what he paid for them, $20.00 a piece.

Anxious to get our “herd” started, being new to the country life; we bought two and some hay and put up a loafing shed. We suspected dairy cross so we named them Buttermilk and Brownie. As they grew, we hand fed them to make handling easier as we had no squeeze chutes in which to confine them. Over the next 14 months they became big pets, begging for carrots or apples as we moved through the field changing irrigation pipes and pulling noxious weeds; and coming on a dead run if you were working in the garden where carrots or pea vines lived or if we were headed toward the grain barrels.
At about 2 years of age, we had them bred to the neighbors Hereford bull. The pregnancies progressed without incident and soon they delivered two frisky little calves. But the udders on these two cows were huge. They clearly had more milk than the calves could handle. Once the calves devoured the first milk, (colostrum) I decided to see if the cow named Brownie could be trained to allow milking. She was pretty skittish at first but soon tolerated it without incident especially when her stanchion was filled with molasses flavored oats. Thus The Milking Angus was born. Her milk was so rich it formed about 6 inches of cream on the top of a gallon jug. Made us suspect Jersey in her blood lines.

Of course once the neighbors knew what we were doing, they fell down in gales of riotous laughter. That is until they saw and tasted the milk. Then they became steady customers. Buttermilk had white on her underbelly so we were thinking Holstein with her as her milk was larger in volume but less cream. An old time rancher told us that he always left the calf with the cow until he wanted a milking then separated them for 12 hrs and took his milking. It worked too, though it did get a little noisy as the calves objected mightily.

We took to birthing the calves in the early fall, as we felt the savings on one winters hay was evident before they were butchered at two years of age. After a couple years we decided we had too many mouths to feed on our small acreage so sold Buttermilk to some friends. We told them we did not have a loading chute so who ever picked up the calves would need a ramp to load her.

A couple cowboys arrived to pick up Buttermilk, only to find we had no chute and they had no ramp. They were going to leave and try to come back with another truck. Wait, we said, this can be done with a carrot. They, too, fell down in gales of laughter. I am not sure what was so funny, but they quit laughing as Buttermilk followed me and a bag of carrots up a hastily made ramp of two 2’ x 6’ boards with a few 2’x 4’ cross pieces nailed to keep her from slipping, into the back of their two ton 4’ high truck bed. She did love carrots, and the cowboys thought the local stockyard should know about us.

Over time Brownie became a neighborhood icon, folks watching as she approached calving or when she was in another field having a fit because a calf was being butchered. The man who did our field killing told us he had never seen a cow like her. She could see or hear his truck about 3/4th of a mile away, and she would meet him at the corner of our property that was ringed by the road, and run along side the truck bellowing at him constantly until he disappeared around the bend on the way to someone else’s place. We always removed her when we were butchering, but she would run right to the spot after the truck was gone and stamp on the ground and snort. It was almost enough to get you to quit eating meat.

One year, we were gone at calving time, and a neighbor on the way to work spotted the new calf. He returned home to grab some Bocee and a banding gun. After he had doctored and banded our little new born boy he trotted off to work. About 30 minutes later, another neighbor and his wife stopped by having noticed the newborn calf. A shot of Bocee was administered and when he turned the calf over to band it, he uttered, “well I’ll be, this puppy was born banded”!! Actually his language was a little more colorful than that but you get the idea.

One time Brownie developed a deep split in her hoof and it badly needed trimming and someone skilled to look at it. I called a horse shoer who would have all the tools and some knowledge of this kind of injury. When he learned we did not have a chute, he would have nothing to do with it.

We called a new young vet, asking him if he would at least examine her. He reluctantly agreed and after the exam agreed it needed trimming and cleaning. But without a chute he was not sure. Carrots, I said, this will work. Dubious, but willing to give it a go, he retrieved his equipment and I retrieved a bucket full of carrots and molasses flavored oats. Then I tied her to a fence post, and offered her the goodies while picking up her foot. He proceeded to trim, file, and clean up this nasty little hoof injury without so much as a twitch. He became the family vet and pretty enamored with Brownie, our Milking Angus.

A few years later I found her newly calved and down on the ground, awake but in deep shock and covered with frost. I grabbed some sleeping bags and covered her up while we put in an emergency call for the vet, assuming calcium or magnesium issues since she had just delivered. He arrived with the magic IVsolution, but by the time he got there so had all the neighbors, so this crowd of onlookers were pretty concerned. She did not get up after the first bottle was administered, and it took a second. By now he had broken into a big time sweat. After she got on her feet, we asked if he was ok, “yes,” he said, “There was just a lot of pressure treating the neighborhood Milking Angus”.

In 17 years Brownie produced 15 calves, and only one was lost due to severe birth defects. She was a sweet little mama, and never lost her pet like qualities with us, or the kids and grandkids. In her 17th year, she broke an ankle, and was in a great deal of pain so it was clear the era of Brownie The Milking Angus was over. But pictures still grace our albums including the pictures of her first calving. We were so excited, we sat on a near by rock pile to record the event. She in typical behavior was more interested in the possibility that we might have brought a carrot to the event."

~Nancy Petersen

Monday, September 1, 2014

On Saving Lives: Meet Miss Ellie

Meet Miss Ellie. She's affectionately been nicknamed "little dog" around here and she is so quiet and relaxed that you'd hardly know she was here if I didn't introduce you. I saved her life.


She has been here almost three months which has given me plenty of time to get to know her so that I can tell you about her.


When I picked her up, just before her "deadline," literally, I took her straight to the vet. She was tested for heartworm (negative), internal parasites (negative), and given her vaccinations (she will need her 3-year Rabies vax in June of 2015). The only thing she was treated for was what looked to be a long-term issue with ear-infections in both ears with the left ear being the most severe. This might need attention from time to time. Anti-inflammatory medications were administered and while she needs a re-check of this currently, it has not caused a significant problem. She is due to be spayed in the next week or so and her ear will be looked at also.


There are so many great things about Ellie that I think I need to use bullet points. Seriously. I cannot put them all into complete sentences or we'd be here for a solid 16 paragraphs.

I know what you might be thinking at this point: "Why is she up for adoption if she is so wonderful?"

Good question. My answer to that is this: Because at first, I desperately wanted to keep Ellie for my own. I told my mentor with the rescue that I wanted to adopt her. And then......I realized that Ellie was not 100% happy. I wanted to keep her for selfish reasons. But I knew in my heart of hearts that Ellie was meant for one special person and as difficult as it was to admit, I knew it wasn't me. So, after about 6 weeks, I told my mentor that Ellie was officially on the market and that finding her special person would be the focus. And that of course, she was welcome to stay here at Hope Farms as long  as it took.

Sweet and Kind

  • Calm - on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being as calm as they come & 5 being super energetic - Ellie is a .75
  • Sweet - Ellie is sweet to everyone: dogs, cats, children, adults - you name it. She has this thing she does when she comes up to you - she'll put her paw on you if you don't pay attention to her. So cute. 
  • Potty-trained - the only time Ellie ever had an accident was when she was not feeling well.
  • Easy to bathe - no shenanigans from this girl, she actually likes it!
  • Easy to groom and medicate - she's easy-peasy to get along with. Seriously, she's a dream.
  • Leash friendly - we are on almost four fenced acres, so a leash is rarely used here, however, it would take no time at all for her to be trained to "heel, sit, stay, etc." if someone were to spend just a few minutes a day with her on these basic commands.
  • Obedient - she knows what "no" means.
  • Content - Ellie is content to lay at your feet, inside, all day long. She LOVES to be inside, with you, all the time. A true companion dog, Ellie thrives by being with her person. My recommendations are that she be homed with a retired or home-based person that is home the majority of the time. While Ellie would be fine on her own for hours on end, even with other dogs, (here is where my heart of hearts comes in...) she is happiest when she is with someone for the majority of the day/evening. *Disclaimer: when Ellie first arrived here, she had some separation-anxiety issues. She barked and whined when we first had to leave her in her crate for the few times that we would leave the farm. She likes her crate but it is not necessary to have one for her. After about a week, she had no incidents of barking or whining. She knew that she was safe and settled down, even when we would leave the farm.
  • A healthy eater - Ellie has a good appetite but is not an over-eater. She is tickled at dinner-time and shows her excitement by a wagging tail, a happy smile and occasionally the "circle of happiness" where she turns in a few circles on her way to her food dish. I have never observed any food aggression in Ellie. I let my 9-year old son feed her and I have actually put my hand in her bowl with her food while she is eating. She's a carefree gal.
  • The perfect size: She is just over 30 pounds - give or take. She is at her mature size.
  • Young, but not too young: Ellie has been estimated by the veterinarian to be between 2 and 3 years - again, give or take. 
  • Car-Rider Extraordinaire - she LOVES to go for car rides and behaves very nicely. In fact, she loves to go for rides so much that she will just about jump into anyone's vehicle. Watch that. ;-)
  • What IS she? We think Miss Ellie is mostly Border Collie but we're not entirely sure. Her energy level and other physical and conformational characteristics tell us otherwise. She's perfect just the way she is, though, don't you agree?
If you are, or know someone who might be, interested in Miss Ellie and think that you might be a good match for her, please send an email to and request an application. 

Also, go to to their Facebook page and "Like" it. Also, invite your friends. The more folks know about rescues and how to help, the more we can bring light to the needs of the animals around us. It start with just one. After Ellie, I will probably save another life. I cannot save them all. I do get overwhelmed when I see the massive need. But it starts with one and what a difference it makes in the life of THAT ONE, yes?

If you are interested in fostering or donating, please contact Friends of Stanly County Animals via either their Facebook page or the email listed above. They could really use the help. Even if just ONE of you does ONE thing, it will help. 

Here is what this rescue organization does and how you can help:

"Friends of Stanly County Animals Rescue is looking for individuals/families who want to make a difference by being a part of rescue. We welcome you in any capacity but we are in need of fosters. We save dogs from Animal Control but we also save them from other circumstances. We take owner surrenders and very often we intervene to keep animals from going to AC. We provide the vetting, food, leash, collar, toys, and crate. We prefer our dogs are inside dogs so you would help with the potty/crate training (some come to us trained). Basically fosters are getting them ready for their forever family. You would simply give the love and attention that every animal (even humans) needs. We will work with you and find out what fits your need best...short term and/or long term. Fosters for pups, young dogs, and older dogs. Fosters for small and big dogs. Fosters are how we save lives. If you are interested please contact us at"