“You think you’re special, don’t you?” I ask the diva.
She does not reply, but her eyes say she understands and agrees.
This is Abby, my sister’s sassy queen of a cow. At eight years old, which is getting up there for a cow, I suppose she thinks she is entitled.
And then there are the ribbons and trophies. You see, Abby is a very beautiful cow, and she usually does well at the fairs, so she has quite a collection of awards to her name.
I am pretty sure Abby knows it, too. Last summer, she was named Supreme Champion at a show, so they put a rosette ribbon around her neck. My sister started to lead her back out of the ring, but Abby was enjoying her moment and walked very slowly so everyone could appreciate her and her ribbon.
I took a picture afterwards of my sister smiling and holding the plaque and Abby wearing her ribbon and looking very pleased with herself, somewhat resenting my sister’s presence in the photo.
She likes to throw her weight around when she is walking to the show ring, just to prove she is definitely the one calling the shots. She chooses pace and direction, and that is that. She is not focused on being beautiful as she walks. She plods along and bobs her head in a homely manner. Once in the ring, however, the game changes. She walks elegantly with her head up, her roan hide glistening as she struts her stuff.
When she wins, it never surprises her. When she loses, it is a different story. At the last fair of the season, she was in the running for Supreme Champion again. The judge announced the winner, who was not her, but she was fine with that, because there was still Reserve Supreme. However, she did not get that either, and she tossed her head in disapproval.
This fall I was out taking pictures of the cows in the pasture. Abby seemed to notice me and started posing, as if to say, “OK I’m ready to model for your pictures.”
Lest you think winning and being beautiful is all she cares about, let me tell you another aspect of her personality. She will stand calmly while many little hands reach out to touch her sleek coat at the fairs as children meet a cow up close for the first time. When my fair chores are done for the moment, she makes a warm pillow to lay in the straw and rest with. She chews her cud and I relax at the comforting feeling of a docile cow.
At home, Abby is a nice cow to have around. For one thing, she is our dependable milk cow. When one of us walks out to the pasture to bring her home, she sees us and starts heading home without prompting. She walks into the milking parlor and contentedly gives us milk.
She will let you hug her neck and pet her face and talk to her. She just listens and never talks back (verbally). There is so much intelligence in those pretty dark eyes and so much personality in that small cow.
She knows she is special, but that is OK with me, because she is right.
MARTHA HOFFMAN, who farms in rural Earlville, is a journalism major at Northern Illinois University.
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