Warning: This blog is somewhat sappy and details may have been slightly enhanced for the betterment of the story.
I believe I was about 14 years old when I first met the animal who would become the best cow ever. Dad and I had gone to a cattle sale in Fayette County, Pa., to find me a 4-H heifer for the upcoming show season. I remember watching her in the sale ring and getting excited as Dad kept bidding on her. I couldn’t understand the auctioneer, so Dad had to tell me when he ‘won’ the mostly white Holstein heifer by bidding last.
Dad smiled at me and then said, “Did you see her name?” He showed me the catalog and pointed out what he was trying to tell me. Bubble… her name was Bubble! I giggled like the overexcited teenage girl that I was, and I knew Bubble and I were going to be best friends forever.
I worked with Bubble a bit more than I had worked with my other 4-H projects. She had a different personality than the other Holsteins I had owned, and she was a nice break from my sweet but stubborn Jerseys. Bubble was also more difficult to keep clean. I remembered learning from a showmanship and fitting workshop that baby powder would help to hide some of the manure stains on an animal’s knees and hocks.
I must have used a whole container of baby powder on Bubble for a district show one summer. Bubble stood second to last in placing, but I received a purple Master Showman ribbon. The judge walked up to me and said, “This is the cleanest white heifer I have ever seen!” To this day, it’s the best compliment I have received in the show ring.
Although I loved her more than anything, I knew Bubble was never going to be a winning show animal. We took her to the local fairs during my high school years, and I always enjoyed watching her antics. Bubble would use her tongue, lick one side of her mouth and then lick the other side. She did this at a fast pace, though, so it made a smacking noise. Every time I think about it, it cracks me up.
I would often tell this story to my friends, who will still sometimes tease me about it. Not remembering the full story, they’ll ask me about ‘Bubbles.’
“It’s Bubble, not Bubbles,” I always quickly, but politely, correct them.
Bubble’s last show was our local Big Knob Fair in August 2005. My sister showed her, as I had started my freshman year at Penn State by that point. Once her showing days were done, Bubble tried to adapt to life as a regular cow on the farm, but she wasn’t much of a grazer. Luckily, Dad was able to sell her to a neighboring dairy farm, where I can visit her and see if she still does that tongue thing.
I know I’m not the only one with a sappy story about a favorite cow. Please share some of your favorite memories about your cows. To my sister, Sarah, in particular – the world needs to know about Giggles.