Is she, you know, a donkey? No, she’s dairy cow more specifically an Ayrshire.
How did you come up with THAT name?
Let me tell you.
Winnie the Pooh has always been my favorite collection of stories and I received my first Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear when I was only a few weeks old. When I was pregnant with our first, my husband went to Minneapolis on a work trip. Wanting to get our unborn baby a souvenir, he found himself in the Disney Store. He picked out a stuffed Eeyore. We introduced Eeyore to Ava shortly after she was born and he has been her favorite ever since. When she started to talk, it was easier for her to say Donkey and the name stuck. Donkey resides in her bed and is her favorite stuffed animal. He always goes with her on overnight trips, went to pre-school show and tell and has even been to the calf barn!
During the winter of 2014; we had a uniquely marked Ayrshire heifer calf born out of one of our favorite cows, Darcy. On our farm, we name our Ayrshire’s. The name on their registration paper and on their ear tag, starts with the first letter of their dam’s (mother) name. Matt asked Ava what this calf should be named and they both agreed on the name, Donkey. They were instant best friends. I still remember taking a then two-year-old Ava to the calf barn to see her Donkey. She runs to her pen and she was gone.
Explaining to a toddler that her favorite calf, who was only 2.5 months old, was merely moved from her individual pen to a different pen in another barn because she had been weaned was not working. The tears turned to hysterics. I knew she was not hearing a word I was saying, I had to show her. I picked her up and we walked, what seemed like miles, to another calf shed. Once we got there, she got to see for herself that because her Donkey was growing, she needed to be moved into a group pen. She was now housed with a handful of other calves who were the same age as her.
It worked and the tears turned into a big smile.
Spring arrived and everyone was growing (calf and toddler). A local 4-H family leased a few of our heifers, one of them being Donkey. Donkey went to live at their farm for a few weeks, another difficult conversation for a toddler to grasp. Donkey was entered and shown in the Winter Calf class at our County 4-H fair where she participated. She did not catch the judge’s eye that particular day. The dairy show also offers a Peewee Class for those children not old enough to show at the fair. On July 20, 2015; Ava and Donkey made their show ring debut!
Each kid earned a ribbon and Ava picked out a pink one because it is her favorite color!
In order for a dairy cow to give milk, she must have a calf and Donkey did just that in the Spring of 2017. She had a bull calf (read more about bull calves here) but she looked great and more importantly was producing a nutrient-rich product (milk) which my family and yours can enjoy. Donkey found her way back to the show ring but due to conflicting schedules, Ava was not able to watch Donkey as she got 2nd place in her class at the Illinois State Fair. Over the winter, Donkey transitioned from a milking cow to a dry cow. This is a period of time where she was not giving any milk in preparation for her having her second calf.
She blessed us with another bull calf, much to Ava’s disappointment but looked excellent!
While making entries for Donkey in the Open Ayrshire Show, I found out the Illinois State Fair offered a pee-wee class. I asked my kids if this was something they were interested in doing. Both kids were incredible excited and it only took a few seconds (if that long) for Ava to decide who she would show. Donkey headed south to the Illinois State Fair and got 1st Place in her class but she had one more class on her agenda. On August 18, 2018; Ava and Donkey entered the show ring together. Ava is incredible shy. She loves to hide behind my leg in new situations or when there is a crowd of people. That morning, she proudly answered the emcee’s questions about what breed and how old she and her cow were. Sadly, the emcee did not ask her cow’s name. Ava and Donkey earned another ribbon, this time a blue one which she proudly displays in her room.
Donkey is not the most outgoing cow on our farm but is growing more comfortable around the little girl who is so incredible fond of her. She will take a break from eating if Ava shouts “Donkey” as we drive by the feed bunk. She is getting use to Ava finding her in the barnyard so she can scratch her nose. Someday, Ava hopes Donkey will give birth to a heifer calf as her first two calves have been bulls. It has been awesome to watch these two grow up together. Looking forward to the future only makes me smile proudly.
We are truly blessed so say that dairy cattle are present at some of the most special moments of our life.
Guilty. I know the importance of reading to our kids but guess what, I am not very good at regularly reading stories to our kids, especially before bedtime. Life happens and I have enough excuses on why I don’t read to them daily to fill this entire page.
But I decided enough was enough. Nightly bedtime story-time was a habit I needed to do. No more excuses.
Therefore, I decided to compile a few of our favorite farm related stories which you need to have in your library! Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item below. I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.
By: Jessica Peters – a real legit dairy farmer from Pennsylvania. Jess takes the nursery rhymes we all know and does a fun agriculture / dairy related twist on them. The book includes real photos of little brown cows and tractors from Spruce Row Farm. Before you know it, you are singing.
By: Jennifer Campbell – such a great story about how a young girl adopts a newborn calf who needs such special attention. Jennifer (the author) is a grain, pig and cattle farmer from Indiana. Not only is she an author, she is an amazing cook and her recipes can be found at Farm Wife Feeds.
A perfect book for toddlers. After you read it to them a few times, it won’t be long before they read it to you. If you youngster prefer construction equipment, make sure you also purchase Good Night Digger.