I'm a sucker for good ol' cows.
Grace is undoubtedly one of them. I met her farmer, Levi Ulrich, when he was just a young pup new to dairy farming about three years ago milking cows in his grandparents' barn just south of Ogema, Wisconsin. When he was in school, his grandfather promised him a Jersey calf if he got his grades up and landed on the honor roll. It's been a while since I read the article I wrote on Levi's growing dairy herd when I wrote for Dairy Star once upon a time, and I can't tell you what Levi's exact GPA was when he rose to the challenge, but he got a bouncing brown-eyed calf named Grace. More than a decade later, Grace is still around and going strong at 11 years old - and Levi is still just as head over heels in love with Jersey cows as he was back then.
Levi has been working hard on building his registered Jersey herd under the prefix CrownCrest, and Grace has more than left her mark on the place with generations of daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters following in line behind her. Not only is she prolific, she's drop-dead gorgeous - registered cattle are classified or appraised for their physical type traits by comparing them to the breed standard of 100 points. Since even the most beautiful and sound cow has at least one flaw, a living cow cannot score higher than 97 points. Grace is scored Excellent-94, so she's 94 percent of perfect according to the American Jersey Cattle Association - and 200 percent perfect in the hearts of all who know her.
We let Grace roam around the farm freely during the session, but if we needed her to pose in one place or otherwise stand still for a few minutes, she was easily coerced with a scoop or five of calf grain. The weather was perfect, the conversation was grand, and all in all, we couldn't have picked a finer afternoon for picturing one very beloved cow.