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Cow Tales

This is the true story of Bozo and Horny.

They were two respectable characters who’ve passed on now, but live in a different time and place—the spiritual world of the goodhearted beasts, you might say.

Bozo lived on the edge of Morefield in the Licking River Valley in Nicholas County. Horny made her home near Gravel Switch, where the knobs of Boyle, Casey, and Marion counties join at the hips, where North Rolling Fork flows and sings.

Bozo was born a bull calf on a Sunday morning about the time Robert and Nell Poline had dressed for church. When they looked to the pasture and saw what was happening, they quickly changed clothes and went to see if they could help, but there’s only so much human beings can do at such crucial moments.

Bozo’s mother died at the birthing despite their efforts, so Robert and Nell carried the newborn to the barn and began to bottle-feed him. The rest of the herd had been sold because of a brucellosis scare, but Bozo became one of God’s special creatures—and he’d not be sold at any price.

Bozo was neutered, and he grew up to weigh 2,000 pounds. He became a downright grateful member of the family. When Robert went on his early evening walks, the gentle animal would always be waiting for the master’s return—a magical meeting of the minds in the shiny bucket of sweet feed.

They say Bozo could have become a champion, but you know how that goes: a blue ribbon leading to an unceremonious date with the butcher.

No, not that!

The friendly brute with the big eyes just moseyed around the farm for 12 good years. The inevitable day would dawn—Bozo went to sleep peacefully and did not wake up. Robert and Nell buried their friend as close as possible to the spot where he was born.

Then there was the cow named Horny.

She got her name from the way her horns grew out in a nice curve and then came together so that from the front it looked like a diadem, a crowning bovine statement.

Jeanne Penn Lane, present proprietor of the famous Penn’s Store at Gravel Switch (the oldest continuously owned and operated store in the United States), estimates that Horny lived to be an incredible 38 years.

“I stopped by the hayshed (as I always do when I leave out) to give Horny a bucket of feed….if sitting down she would struggle to get up and wobble over to eat…. To view her from the rear was like looking at a heart…with her hooves being the apex.”

Jeanne hurried to town to run her errands, then came home as quickly as possible. She gave Horny another opportunity to take a taste from the sweet feed bucket, but the grand old lady wanted no part of it.

“So, I petted Horny and let her know what a wonderful Queen she had been to the herd and farm. She looked at me and I knew.”

Jeanne decided she couldn’t afford to pay to put Horny down, so she just asked the Powers That Be to decide the time, which came soon enough.

“Bruce Crain is coming in the morning with his backhoe to dig the grave behind the hayshed,” Jeanne wrote. “It has saddened me…she made it through the winter…I know all the locals thought I was ‘wacky’ putting Horny up the past two winters…carrying her water and feed every day…through ice and snow and subzero temps. But she was royalty to me and had served the herd and farm all these years, had many wonderful calves who had helped keep the farm going, and it was my turn to honor that.”

Jeanne decided to plant a garden over Horny’s grave.

That’s the way this story ends.

Fresh flowers and green grass growing in the fullness of time.

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