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The Story of Buttercup, updated with pictures

Saturday, February 24, 2018

We moved to the farm 26 years ago in January, we both came from families that did farming and had experience with animals. I spent hours downstairs in the barn, cleaning it out, cutting off old stanchions and building box stalls. The first year we just worked on getting a pig pen ready along with an outside place for them, and raised 3 pigs, also we had a small flock of hens. The second year we filled the box stalls with Romney sheep, a llama, and a tiny heifer named Buttercup. She was the most spoiled little Jersey heifer you ever saw, we used to go down at night before bed and she would run up and down the aisle to each of us at opposite ends, those big beautiful brown eyes sparkling with joy. She was a wedding present to me from my husband, and just so cute. The same day Buttercup came home a 6 month old cat came to live with us too, she was a drop off and had kittens in the ditch. A beautiful calico with half a black face and half orange with ears just the opposite , I called her Persephone. As we built pastures that summer we decided to get a couple of baby Toggenburg goats, Nip and Tuck came home that fall, and we called the three of them our milk herd!

Buttercup grew into a beautiful Jersey cow and we had her bred AI for her first calf. We worked hard that winter enclosing an area to be a milk room and gathering equipment for milking all from a swap sell guide we have in Maine called Uncle Henry's. We found a milking machine, a compressor, a SS double sink, a cream separator, SS milk pails and several butter churns. We were not quite ready when Buttercup went into labor early, and delivered a dead bull calf that was way too young to survive. What a rush to have to milk her several months early! We got it all done though and started milking. I was making butter from the cream, Buttercup was unusually high in butterfat and I was making a batch of butter several times a week using my small 2 gallon churn. I cranked out 7 lbs a batch! Buttercup was soon joined by several other cows, Rosie and Violet, and a new small heifer named Lily.

Buttercup had a long history of bulls, and I really wanted to keep a heifer from her, finally after 9 bulls in a row she had a heifer and we named her Clover. I babied that calf just like her mother, she was beautiful but flawed in the end. I tried breeding her AI multiple times and nothing, we took her to see 4 different bulls in the area, but nothing. Finally I was looking at her out in the field one day and it occurred to me that she didn't look like a cow, she was shaped more like a bull, and was probably a freemartin. I was very sad to let her go, but there was no way she would ever be a milk cow.

Buttercups next calf was also a heifer, this one was Dandelion, she looked just like her mother, and of course she stayed too. Dandelion fell ill when she was 18 months old, the vet tried this and that and in the end I lost my Dandelion, plus had a bill for $1800. Buttercup never had another calf she was getting along in years and I just kept her until she passed away, she is buried below my orchard. The day after I buried Buttercup, Persephone also passed away to old age, she was buried next to Buttercup, as they came here together they also left together. They were links to my past, and my husband, that I hated to see go, as he was also gone.

Many cows came and went and all had flower names, Lily, two different Rosies, there was another Buttercup who I milked for a while, she came with that name and I couldn't change it. Violet, Marigold,Daisy and Marigolds daughters, Jasmine and Lavender. During this time butter production had increased to me making 120 lbs several times a week, I enjoyed butter making day and sold tons of butter. I still find myself missing my first Buttercup.

Buttercup, she was a very light colored Jersey, not sure what that spot is looks like a chicken lol. I found this picture on an old Goldenrod Farm website. Buttercup loved wearing a bell, It made her the lead cow!

Clover at 18 months old, she must look like her AI father, one of the darker Jerseys
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