Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Memory: Tinkerbell

This is my little sister, Jen, in 7th or 8th grade, and that adorable Holstein calf is Tinkerbell, her pet heifer for several months. Yep, most kids have pets that are cats or dogs, but Jen had a pet heifer. Tinkerbell was born a tiny twin calf and probably weighed 45 pounds when Jen adopted her from the local dairy. Odds were not in the little calf's favor, but Jen dutifully and faithfully bottle-fed Tinkerbell and she ended up thriving and doing quite well.
As Tinkerbell grew, it was obvious she wasn't going to be bothered with acting like a regular cow. She couldn't be pushed or corralled, and instead, when we needed her to move to a different pen or load on the trailer, Jen would simply walk up to her, tell her what to do, and then show her where to move and the heifer would do as she was told. It was really quite funny and amazing to see. Tinkerbell put up with the rest of the family, but she knew she belonged to Jen and had a clear favorite.

Due to Tinkerbell's status as a free-martin (heifer calf with a bull twin, usually infertile and does not have typical dairy-type characteristics)she did not show well at our local livestock shows and fairs. She led perfectly and Jen could get her to do anything in showmanship classes, but it was obvious Tinkerbell was never going to develop into even an average milking cow. So, when Tinkerbell was to butchering weight, our dad decided she should be our freezer beef for the year. Jen adamantly refused to have her calf be the one in our freezer. She fully understood that Tinkerbell couldn't live a long and full life on a dairy, but she also was not going to eat her all winter either. Dad gave into his daughter's emotional pleas and instead of butchering Tinkerbell, he picked another calf for our freezer and took Tinkerbell to the livestock auction with some other calves.

Jen raised other calves after Tinkerbell, and one Holstein heifer actually entered a milking herd and did quite well, being a top milker and producer of quality heifers, but none of them would ever come close to pulling at Jen's heartstrings like little Tinkerbell.

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