A Cinderella Story Featuring a Cow Named Bambi

Miss Bambi

Fulp Wonderment Bambi

Its the month of August so all of us “show people” know what that means. Show season is in full swing!!! Showing is what this post is mostly about; however it also demonstrates how a dose of bad luck can be quickly turned around by a simple gesture of love and generosity. So sit back and enjoy as I share with you a Brown Swiss Cow Cinderella Story.

toni

Timberline Jetway Toni

Angela

Timberline Denmark Angela

Like with most of my blog posts, I will begin with a background. When I was growing up, my parents owned a dairy farm where we milked about 60 registered Brown Swiss cows. The cows my parents had developed and/or purchased were simply good and some of the best in Missouri and even the United States. We had grand champion several consecutive years at Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield, as well as several grand champion titles at the Missouri State Fair. We even won Supreme Champion (which is HUGE) at the state fair and Reserve Grand at World Dairy Expo with a cow back in 1999—Timberline Jetway Toni—who has been named one of the greats.  Among winning state shows, our cows had earned All-American and Reserve All-American titles, stood in the top of their class at the World Dairy Expo, won the first ever 3-year old futurity at WDE and even won at other national shows across the country. Needless to say, we had a very strong reputation in the Brown Swiss industry for having top of the line cows and I’ll admit it, huge targets on our backs. We sadly had to sell out in 2004 which I will say was one of the most difficult days of my life. (However, I am proud to say that even today- approximately 9 years later- our cows are still having a huge influence on the Brown Swiss breed through their offspring and continued success in the show ring.) A few years after selling our cows, my parents decided to buy some heifers for my younger sister and I to use as FFA projects and just to give us the chance to show again. Long story short, this turned out to be not as good as plan as we hoped for.

Our first year back, we had a very good show string winning both junior and grand champion at the state fair with two of our animals. We felt really good about our decision to be back; however our luck quickly headed the other way. My parents purchased a really good cow out of Wisconsin named Starbright for my little sister because she never had the chance to own and lead a milk cow. Well after her successful show season the first few months we had her, her health went downhill. It took us a year to get her pregnant and when she finally calved in, her health took a major turn for the worst. She was battling respiratory problems so severe that the vet at the University of Missouri said she could not survive on an actual dairy farm. So my parents being as awesome as they are, decided to set up a portable milker at our house and milk her here. We milked her for 3 months, twice a day at our place. She was happy, healthy and as you can imagine, very spoiled!!!! We all got very attached to her because of her gentle personality and having to spend so much time with her. When show season came around, we felt like she was healthy and strong enough to get back on the tanbark. She was milking over 70 pounds of milk per day, gained all of her weight back and was not showing any signs of having breathing problems. We hauled her to the state fair with hopes of her doing well, as well as the chance of my little sister being able to show a milk cow for the first time. Starbright settled right in at the fair the first two days she was there. The day before she was to show, I noticed her being off her feed and appearing to not feel well. We immediately called a vet to be sure she was okay. Long story short, late Friday night, Starbright breathed her last there in Sedalia, Mo. It was a traumatic life event for my entire family; however my little sister was hurting the worst. She loved her Starbright and it was obvious that Starbright loved her. I will never, ever forget my mom coming into our hotel room sobbing and having to listen to my little sister sob too when she heard the news. (I’m crying right now as I write this.) I will never forget this as long as I live. No person should have to go through losing a cow at a state fair like we did. The next few days, I remember not being able to walk through the barn without having tears streaming down my face. My little sister was a wreck. In the FFA show, I cried as I led my cow for the grand champion drive knowing that it should have been Starbright and my sister out there instead of me. The really bad thing about all of this is the fact that there were people there who began spreading rumors that we killed our cow by “drowning her” to get her looking good for the show when we were actually following the university vet’s orders of giving her BlueLite to get her rumen working. So not only did we have to deal with losing the cow, we also had to go around telling people that we did not kill our own cow by showing them necropsy reports that her lungs were bad and full of infection. (Mizzou’s necropsy on her showed that only 10% of her lungs were functioning and that is was only a matter of time before she couldn’t survive any longer.) Anyways, as you can imagine, we were completely devastated. My sister would cry every single day for the next several weeks. Not seeing Starbright in her paddock was so, so hard.

fulp

Stephanie with our grandparents, Gary and Sue Fulp

About a few weeks later, my grandma- Sue Fulp- called us. She said that she and my grandpa wanted to give my little sister a calf to help heal the hurt she was feeling from losing Starbright. As much as we told grandma she didn’t have to do that, she insisted. Needless to say, a little Brown Swiss calf ended up over here. The calf’s name was Bambi and let me be the first to tell you, it fit her perfectly! She was about the size of a large dog and didn’t weigh 75 pounds. (Most swiss calves her age would have weighed about 120 pounds or more). Even though she was small, she was cute, cute, cute!!! We raised her up and my sister even showed her the next year. She was just an average heifer and always stood in the middle of her class. We sold the rest of our small herd that year, but kept Bambi because she was a gift. (We even tried giving her back, but she said absolutely not.) So we just turned Bambi out and let her grow. Of course with her being the only cow on the place, she also became extremely spoiled and was just like a big pet. When she was old enough, we bred her to one of the best bulls in the breed and she was confirmed pregnant due to calve in May. Throughout the winter, we noticed Bambi was no longer living up to her name. For whatever reason, she went through a major growth spurt. The heifer got HUGE! She was one of the biggest springer heifers any of us had seen. When May came around, Bambi calved in with a really good heifer calf. We sent Bambi back to my aunts and grandparents’ dairy where she would be milked thinking she probably would not turn out to be a show cow and focused most of our attention on that little heifer calf she had. My sister ended up calling the calf Bazinga. (We’re Big Bang Theory fans, can’t you tell?) Bazinga waBazingas a nice calf there was no question. She also had genomic numbers that were out of this world. She never got sick and always had a good appetite. When she was close to being weaned, she began this really bad habit of chewing her rope in half. We were sick of chasing her and worried she was going to get hit on the road, so we decided to go ahead an put her in the weaning pen. She was in there a good 5 days and did not have any problems. Long story short by day 6, we found her down almost dead. We ended up losing her and to this day do not know what caused it. Bazinga even made the profile picture of New Generation Genetics on Facebook and I even had inquiries about her from Europe. It’s always the good ones! Once again, my little sister was devastated. How much bad luck can one kid have?
Fulp Wonderment Bambi Supreme Champion FFA Show 2013 Ozark Empire FairIn the meantime before we lost Bazinga, we realized just how good of a cow Bambi truly was. Back in June, my cousin had called us and said we should highly consider showing Bambi because she had turned out to be a really nice cow. We entered her in the Ozark Empire Fair not expecting much. Granted there was only two head of Swiss there and she was the only cow. HOWEVER, seeing her all clipped and full of milk gave us a good indication that she really was good. Both judges told us she was one of the best 2-year olds they’d seen and that she needed to be shown at the state fair and other national shows. Bambi ended up winning Supreme Champion of the FFA Show beating all other breeds. There was about 80 head of dairy cattle there and many exhibitors stopped by to tell us we had a good one. Unfortunately, there were those who talked saying it wasn’t a big show and that winning supreme was not a big deal there. Well it definitely was to us knowing the full story and knowing she was a gift from my amazing grandparents. Also, being able to see the excitement on my sister’s face after seeing it completely devastated when she lost Starbright was simply amazing. My grandma and grandpa were soooo excited when they heard how well Bambi did! So, we ended up paying late fees and entered her in the state fair.

Bambi_and_Ali

Me and Bambi or as we also call her “Bam-Bam”

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So thankful for this cow allowing my sister to experience this!

Bambi made the trip to Sedalia with my cousins and their cows. She did well in the open show placing 2nd in her class and winning reserve intermediate champion. In the FFA show, she won her class, was intermediate champion and reserve grand champion. Bambi will also be making a journey to Stillwater, Oklahoma for the Southwestern National Show and possibly even to Louisville, Kentucky for the Eastern National Show.

Throughout all of this success, we make it known that people know Bambi’s story and be sure to give all the credit to our grandparents. We want their story to be heard!

This has been a lengthy post, but given the story, I did not want to leave any details out. For some, it is hard to understand how attached we get to our cows. For others who do understand, they will get teary eyed as they read this post. I do look at life differently than a lot of people, but to me this story serves as a life lesson. My grandparents saw my sister hurting and did what nobody else did. They acted and gave my sister a calf to help heal the hurt. My grandma obviously had no idea Bambi would turn out the way she did…nobody did! (Honestly, I almost laughed when I first saw her because she was such a runt.) They acted out of love, kindness and generosity. To me, that is what makes this story so special. Of all the calves she had, for whatever reason she chose Bambi. I truly believe that the reason Bambi turned out so well is because of my grandmas act of nothing but pure kindness and love. Some may be jealous, some may be pessimistic, some may even just shake their heads. I don’t care.

I think it is fate, and I believe it is God’s way of showing us that no matter how bad life gets, there are always better days ahead. He really does reward us for living like Christians should

Look at my sister for example. She lost Starbright and Bazinga. If it was not for Bambi, I do not know how she would be right now. The really cool thing about this is that Bambi was not a result of going out and spending thousands of dollars. She was not a result of greed. I am so thankful for my grandma and grandpa. They set a good example like always and this story just proves that. It also proves that everything really does happen for a reason. Next time you see them, give them a hug. Congratulate them on breeding a phenomenal cow. We are the ones who show her; however they are the ones who created her. They are the ones who gave my sister this opportunity. They are truly an inspiration! I love them so very much. Words truly cannot express how appreciative, honored, blessed, and the list goes on and on, myself as well as the rest of my sisters and cousins are to have them as grandparents.

This truly is your typical Cinderella Story. Granted, there are probably not many of these featuring a cow; however when you’re a girl who has been involved in dairy for so long and who has grown up loving basketball, I couldn’t resist using the term to describe this story. I hope this influences you like it has influenced me. Thank you for reading this all the way through. Until next time, God Bless!

~Ali

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Way to hang in there Steph. This is only the beginning for what is in store for the two of you!

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Comments

  1. Great post and message! Thank you for sharing…it was just what I needed to hear. Make sure you look me up when Bambi comes to Stillwater!

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