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Rose Goes to School

Last week Rose, Owen’s 4-H cow, went to school. For those of you who know our big girl this won’t come as much of surprise. Rose isn’t your average dairy cow, she’s a little quirky, completely chill (for the most part), has a HUGE personality all while being the biggest baby on the farm (you can read about the time we thought she was on death’s door HERE).

How, some of you might be asking, did our 900 lb princess end up in the middle of the city last Wednesday afternoon? This is a valid question, one that can be answered simply, because one of my cow camp kids asked me to.

You don’t have to know me well to know that I love my camp kids. Without exception I think they are the most fabulous group of humans in the world, seriously….no exceptions. There’s something about a modern kid who is willing to spend the day outside in the middle of our disgusting NC summers with nothing but farm animals and friends to entertain them. No TV, no phones, no AC just hanging out with animals and playing. These kids are lovely!

So, when I got an email from Belle (who happens to be the secretary for Jordan HS’s FFA chapter) about giving a talk, we hooked up the truck and trailer, loaded up Rose and headed into the city. I should mention that Belle only asked me to give a talk, bringing a cow to town was my idea, one that Scott wholeheartedly endorsed (this is why we’ve been married for 27 years).

Just as an aside, Durham is a med-sized city with 13 public high schools two of which have FFA chapters (10 years ago there were none:) Cows don’t go to school in Durham, most of the kids have never been close to a cow, let alone getting a chance to hug one.

We turned many a head as these country mice slowly made their way through Durham’s narrow tree lined roads with our big-eyed Jersey watching everyone out of the back of the trailer, occasionally mooing. Rose was feeling a little nervous, that combined with her being well fed, made for a large volume of liquid fertilizer sloshing out the back of the trailer with every acceleration. The cars who impatiently tailgated us as we made our way through town quickly thought better of it after the first traffic light, wisely deciding to give us a wide birth. I like to think we left a little bit of home on Durham’s streets that day and taught her residents some road manners.

Once on school grounds what had seemed like clear instructions became less clear. I went in search of the lambs who were apparently in a small courtyard around the back of the school (Jordan HS takes lambs to the Central Carolina Livestock Show in April every year…such a cool project) and where we were to meet Belle and her fellow classmates.

As I scouted the campus looking for the most likely spot for a group of lambs, keeping an ear out for a baa I ran across what turned out to be the lacrosse coach loading up his car. In response to my query about lambs and location I got a “head back that way then follow the smell”. “Poor man”, I thought, he is going to get quite the surprise when he gets a load of our Rose.

With our bearings now found we haltered then unloaded Rose (I was so glad I had decided to wear boots and not my regular shoes) then headed along the drive towards the back of the school (I forgot to mention that we also took Scott’s bestie, an aussie named Finn, along with us. As I mentioned above, Rose is Owen’s 4-H cow which means she is halter broke and well behaved (for the most part). Try to imagine the procession, Rose slightly out front (but not too much), me holding her lead rope, Finn trotting behind me with Scott taking up the rear. As we passed an open door I heard “COW!” then “DOG!”. Stopping I turned around to see a class full of kids staring in disbelief. Their teacher asked if they could join us. Our procession of 4 became closer to 20.

The kids were so sweet and curious asking wonderful questions about Rose, her breed, how much she weighed and gushing over how beautiful she is, reinforcing what I already knew to be true. Once I had been escorted to the lambs in the little grassy courtyard and the kids had taken selfies, given scratches and generally adored our sweet girl they were ushered back to the classroom by their teacher. Finn tried to follow them; he is also a sucker for kids.

No sooner had our band of helpful sophomores reluctantly headed back to classroom another cry of “OMG a COW!” came out of one of the ground level rooms. Turning, trying to locate the cries, I saw around a dozen faces hanging out of the window talking excitedly. As soon as their teacher asked if they could come and visit all of them climbed out of their windows and ran towards Rose. It was like a crowd rushing a football field after a victory, only fewer people…but just as excited.

Soon kids were coming out from doors, more windows, around corners and down the stairs. I was a little worried Rose would freak out but our little princess just chewed her cud, allowed the kids to walk her around and generally took in all the compliments…..she is going to be impossible moving forward!

After school let out it was down to just a small group of the sweetest FFA kids, we chatted about all things cows and generally had a lovely time. Our Ag agent even came by to talk to the kids! (thanks Janel:) Teens can be a pain (I should know I live with one) but on the whole they are delightful to be around, just like babies….you get to enjoy their company but they go home to their parents.

The most animated Rose got was when the lacrosse coach drove by on his gater with a back full of 5 gallon buckets filled with balls. She would’ve chased them out to the field in the hopes of a nice little snack (5 gal buckets mean feed in our neck of the woods). The coach was a little concerned as our determined bovine turned to chase them….follow the smell indeed!

This is probably all he could see as he looked back!

As we retraced our steps back to the trailer I breathed a sigh of relief, Rose hadn’t pooped once! I guess she cleaned out her bowls on the way in.


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