Heifer Was Queen of the Herd on the Family Farm

Illinois woman talks about the miraculous recovery of Blackberry, queen heifer on her family farm

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My parents went into farming when I was 7. Our family farm started off with a dairy. There was an odd assortment of cows: Guernsey, Holstein and Jersey. The product of one of these cows and a non-dairy bull was a blotched black heifer named Blackberry. She became a haughty cow who seemed to think she was a bit better than the other members of the herd. Blackberry stayed clean while the other cows got muddy. She seemed to have the best stalks of hay and the sunniest spot on a cold day.

It was a disturbing day when we found her down and unable to get up. She continued to chew her cud and looked as if she was resting, but nothing could get her up. We had to bring her food and water. She was 8 years old. She still maintained her dignified air even though she could not stand.

My dad figured out a way to slide her around. He moved her to a more sheltered spot near the stock trailer. The vet didn't know what ailed Blackberry, so he didn't know what to do for her. The thought had come more than once that her life should be ended, except that she didn't appear to be in pain. This situation lasted for one or two months.

Then one morning Daddy was in a hurry to use the stock trailer. He connected it to the pickup and pulled away too fast. Suddenly, he remembered Blackberry. He stopped the pickup and hurried over to see if she was okay.

Evidently, the commotion had startled Blackberry. She stood on wobbly legs. What ailed Blackberry was never known. From that day on, she could walk. There was no monetary loss of a good cow, and there was no sentimental loss of an almost-pet. The monarch returned to reigning over her domain.

Janette Shuja
Mount Prospect, Illinois


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.