Instantly I regretted the decision I made. Our time together was far too short. I was 11 years old in 1971, living with my family on Star Thistle Ranch in
. It was a hot summer day when my mother went to the cattle auction, bringing home a one-month-old Black Angus heifer, female calf. My mother told me the calf was mine to care for and raise. I named her Cottonwood, California Shiloh. My mother knew whenever I loved an animal and it responded in kind, I bonded very deeply. Mr. Steak, my pet steer, was slaughtered the year prior and I think my mother was trying to make this up to me.
Shiloh was loaded into a trailer and he was brought home. A very gentle giant, who is actually still a bull, Shiloh LOVES visitors! As I write this story, I look out my office window, watching Shiloh looking back at me with huge brown eyes. Some 30 years of time stands still as I thank GOD for this instant karma – well, almost instant.
I bottle fed
Shiloh; brushed her hair and teeth; bathed her; sprayed fly repellent on her and made certain I kept her in sight so I could attend to her. After school I would race off the bus, throw my book bag into my bedroom, change into my Levi’s 501 blue jeans, jump the fence and lay my head down on my precious pet. She would be napping in the pasture. My mother, seeing me lying on Shiloh’s side, would yell from the kitchen window, "Debbie, get off that cow!" I ignored my mother, continuing to tell Shiloh about my day at school. For eighteen months, I shared my most treasured thoughts with only Shiloh.
Ross, my brother, and I were taken to a motorcycle shop in town. Our parents would assist us in purchasing the motorcycles of our choice, paying half. Ross saved his portion for the yellow
100 he discovered; I did not have my portion for the red Kawasaki 90 I selected. My mother told me if Kawasaki Shiloh returned to the auction, she would be sold for the sole purpose of making calves.
My mother assured me since
Shiloh was a heifer and not a steer, she would avoid slaughter. I would get the money from the sale and then I could purchase the red motorcycle. The monetary and material gain eventually grew far too enticing to resist. Besides, I believed Shiloh would not be harmed in any way.
The time arrived for
Shiloh and I to part ways. The cowboys tried, yet could not get Shiloh to walk the ramp into their auction truck. Knowing Shiloh would follow me anywhere, my mother told me to climb in first. Trusting me, Shiloh walked up the ramp behind me and into the back of the truck. I jumped out and off drove the truck with Shiloh staring back at me. All remaining were two very sad female beings. I stood amidst the dust kicked up by the truck, gazing into Shiloh’s huge brown eyes. I knew we would never forget each other.
Nearly 30 years later I told Bonny, a close friend, about my time with
Shiloh. I let her know if given another opportunity, I would do everything in my power to prevent any harm from coming to Shiloh. Once again, I was heartbroken as I stood in my kitchen, telling Bonny the story. In my mind’s eye, I could still see Shiloh looking back at me as she was leaving.
By now, I acquired several rescued farm animals. In the summer of 2000, my neighbor called to tell me about a Black Angus steer being shown at the county fair. He mentioned the steer, a 4-H project, needed a home or he would be sent to slaughter. Instantly tears filled my eyes, as I knew for certain
Shiloh returned - to me. Spencer, my son, and I were en route to the zoo; however, I immediately turned the car around and drove to the fairgrounds. We walked up to his stall. I could hardly believe my eyes - the Grand Champion of Bovines on display for viewing.
Unfortunately, there was a box for people to deposit tickets on which they were to guess and write down “Stewie’s” weight. The winner would become Stewie’s new owner. The mighty men, small children, women, the elderly, you name it – all walked up, depositing their tickets into the box. The long line at the ticket box was filled with hopeful guessers. Spencer and I went to the other fair attendees in the large barn. I asked their guess on Stewie’s weight. Feeling frantic, I finally put a ticket in the box with a hope and a prayer. I whispered in
Shiloh’s ear he would soon be home with us.
A week later, I learned a little girl won the prize steer. My heart sank and I wondered, “How could this be?” I knew this was myShortly thereafter,
Shiloh; it did not seem possible someone else could win. The 10-year-old winner did not realize her prize would soon fill her parent’s freezer with several new white packages. The Peninsula Humane Society called her home, saying they would take Stewie off their hands, rescuing him. The little girl was relieved, turning him over to the Peninsula Humane Society. Soon, I received a telephone call telling me if I wanted to adopt him, he would be mine.