How do you say goodbye to someone you've known for 27 years? There are no easy "farewells" when you've had an animal for that long. A long trusted and cherished companion has crossed over the rainbow bridge at our farm. My beloved cow Gabby.
Most people have a horse, a dog, cat, or some other domestic animal that is near and dear to their heart. Mine was a cow. She was my 4-H project that I had kept for what seems like forever. A long time ago a family friend dropped off an orphaned calf at my parents house. I was 8 years old, and bottle fed the little heifer for her first few months of life. She became my 4-H project, and what a good one she was. Most cattle will only live 9 or 10 years before a rancher sends them to the burger butcher block, but my beauty lived a far longer and better life. She very much deserved it. There is some solice in knowing that I offered her a comfortable and quality way of life, but the pain of loss outweighs on my mind at the moment.
We've known that this day was coming for awhile, but that didn't make it any easier. Craig and I noticed Gabby slowing down in the past few months. Eating became slower, moving became slower, everything became slower... But we still babied her along. She recieved the very best of care in every way, and lived 3 times longer than most other bovine counterparts in the world. When her teeth were gone we soaked alfalfa and grain mash every day for her to eat. When it was cold she had a special blanket to keep her warm. When her arthritis crept in on rainy days we gave her medicine to ease the pain. Her quiet retirement pasture that she occupied with another old timer is now a little bit lonelier, and her companion is going to miss her very much.
My cattle days have come to a close. The grand matriarch has passed on, and the last of what was once a small 4-H herd is now gone. But the many memories are fondly looked back upon.
|Our first show, the Milton-Freewater Junior Livestock Show. I was 10 years old and Gabby was a two year old. We won reserve champion in the beef heifer class. She was so beautiful...|
|This is a photo of the same show the following year when I was 11, and we won another reserve champion. (I began experimenting with curly hair at the beginning of the 90's, and the home perms were a pretty bad idea....)|
|And this was her last calf in 2004. She was 20 years old when she had this little guy.|
|In 1997 when I was a senior in high school, I showed one of Gabby's grandsons at the Pendleton Livestock Show. It was a local show for market animals. I won grand champion showman with the steer.|
|We were famous...|
|"Gabby" 1986 - 2013. Goodbye my mahogany beauty. I'll miss those sweet gorgeous brown eyes.|