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Billie & the Calves

Back in August, I did a story for the newspaper about a local farmer, Billie McDowell, whose black baldy cow had given birth to twin heifers. Apparently, this was somewhat rare, but mostly it was a good opportunity for me to get away from the office for a little while and shoot some pictures of cows.

(It’s all about me, you know … except when it isn’t. I’ve mentioned that before, right?!)

The story wasn’t anything long or all that involved, and it mostly revolved around Billie’s health over the last several years. He’d had cancer just about everywhere in his body, but he’d fought through it, and he credited his life on the farm with being a big part of his recovery.

Or, as he put it: “Cows are good therapy.”

A few days later, he came into the office to pick up some extra copies of the paper with him and his calves in it.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people have read that story,” he said. “I’ve had people from all around tell me they’ve seen it — some of them from out of state, even!” (Turns out that Internet can really get the word out!)

He invited me to come out again, any time, and told me if I ever got any prints made of the pictures I’d taken, he’d sure like to have some. Me being me, though: I never made it out there again before winter arrived; I figured I might drop in on Billie and the calves sometime this spring or summer.

Mid-morning yesterday, I received an obituary with Billie’s name on it via the fax machine. When my beloved Bruce the Funeral Director called to see if I’d gotten the fax, I asked him if this was the same Billie McDowell that I’d written the story about. Bruce wasn’t sure, but he told me he’d call me today with the full obit.

Of course, it was the same man. And immediately — and what seemed a little sillily (is that even a word?) — I thought about those cows, and how they’d miss Billie. And vice-versa.

Bruce told me Billie’s sister had been in to make the funeral arrangements and help with the obit information. Turns out Billie’s wife has Alzheimer’s, and she and Billie had actually spent the last few months living in a nursing home here in town.

Bruce also said the sister had told him that Billie “sure was proud of that story in the paper.”

I am, too.

Cow & Calves

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