Eighth Wonder of the World

by Amy on March 31, 2010

Most people aren’t aware that South Dakota has two wonders of the world; Mount Rushmore and our Herford cow Annabelle—the eighth wonder of the world.

A neighboring rancher told my husband once that a Hereford cow that doesn’t get pinkeye or sunburned udders and doesn’t prolapse is the eighth wonder of the world. Hereford cattle are known for these problems as much as they are their gentle disposition.

Annabelle is a natural wonder. She’s regarded with awe for more than one reason. She was an orphaned twin we’d found after we moved cows to summer range back in 2003 and she became our kids’ first bucket calf. In the past, our operation hasn’t been overly successful in getting bucket calves to turn out to be good mother cows for whatever reason. Annabelle has been our exception. Since she’s had her first calf as a three-year old, she has consistently produced good calves. She’s had four heifer calves—two of which are now veteran momma cows also—and two bull calves that were sold and the money put toward our kids’ college fund. She possesses the best mothering qualities that a rancher could ask for of any cow. Every year she’s calved on her own and has always had her calf immediately licked clean and up and sucking shortly after it was born.

Annabelle is the superstar of our herd and the highlight of calving season. The arrival of her calves as well as her daughter’s calves is highly anticipated. I was the first one to see Annabelle’s new calf this year, which made having to get up at 3:30 in the morning to check cows worthwhile. I took great satisfaction in being the first to know and telling my family the good news that morning.

Despite calving when the temperature was in the teens, “Anna Maria”—what the kids named the calf—Annabelle had her baby taken care of so good that the calf acted like she was a week old instead of hours old. When my husband came in from his daylight cow check and saw Annabelle’s new calf, he said of our only Hereford cow, “She’s the best cow ever.”

Not only has Annabelle turned out to be a good mother and one of the gentlest cows, she’s one of the healthiest looking cows of the whole herd; another marvel considering that many cows run her off at feeding time. Her heifer calves always matured into gentle mother cows also.

When Annabelle was a bucket calf, we didn’t realize that having her would teach our kids so many life lessons. Our kids understand what it means to be dependent upon, and having Annabelle has developed their compassion and caring qualities for animals. They understand the important role of a rancher and agriculture, and what investing in something really means; hard work, patience, time and energy. Partaking in the ranch work as part of their ownership of cows, our kids have a much better understanding of reproduction, birth, and the harsh realities of death.

As my husband and I were marveling over the calves from Annabelle’s bloodline, he said, “What we’re doing for these kids by having Annabelle around is building them up a good herd of gentle cows.” Something I would rather see than Mount Rushmore any day.

column originally published the week of March 21-27, 2010

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