REEDSVILLE - "The Belle of St. Mary's'' has been put out to pasture - quite literally.
Also known by her more common moniker - "The Dairyland Cow'' - the 13-foot-tall, 1,200 pound fiberglass bovine that graced the Dairyland Complex in Reedsville since around the turn of the 21st century has taken up permanent residence at Hameau Farm, near Reedsville.
Hameau Farm is home to Audrey Gay Rodgers, daughter of John R. and Gayle Rodgers, who originally purchased the cow from a friend and fellow-Ayrshire dairyman in St. Mary's.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
The Dairyland Cow has been put out to pasture at Audrey Gay Rodgers’ farm in Reedsville.
Rodgers, who has an Ayrshire dairy herd as well as a summer camp for girls and some other enterprises at the farm, said she has moved the cow around her pastures because that's the way her more conventional cows are managed.
"It's here in the middle of my field,'' she said. "It's just for fun, We brought it up last fall and we've just been moving it around the field. We rotate the cattle around our pasture and we've been rotating her, too.''
The Dairyland enterprise was founded in the early 1940s as a retail and bottling plant. It was purchased by the Rodgers family in the early 1970s and was operated as a retail outlet for jug milk and ice cream until 1985. In 1986, Gayle Rodgers began developing an antique shop, and the complex eventually included an outdoor flea market, restaurant, gift shop, craft shop and rental facilities.
Since a fire destroyed much of the facility in 2011, the Dairyland complex was sold and closed completely in 2012, and is now slated for demolition. With that, Belle lost her home.
"I wanted it here,'' Rodgers explained. "I have Ayrshire cows here and I thought it'd be a nice way to promote the Ayrshire breed and benefit the summer programs here. We had her in the same pasture as the other cows last fall and they didn't bother it at all.''
The big bovine is permanently mounted on a base with wheels and must be carefully placed relative to the prevailing winds, she noted. That was a lesson learned when a tropical storm with fierce winds came through around the middle of the last decade, toppling the cow "right into the driveway of the Kish Bank.'' With a repaired ear and some repainted portions, Belle was back on watch at Dairyland that time.
The cow's portability has made it possible for her to travel to the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg twice. In September 2012, the Year of the Ayrshire at the show, she was featured as part of the Ayrshire promotion.
Also, the folks of St. Mary's are hoping that she will come home this summer to take part in a parade. Negotiations are under way about that.
Transporting the cow on the highway is a big deal - she's too large to pass under some bridges, and has to have her horns removed.
At home in the Kishacoquillas Valley, the cow is a common subject of conversation.
"Just the other day a woman told me, 'I appreciate that you keep that cow on the move.'" Rodgers said. "We've had it in three or four different locations since September, and we'll probably be moving it again, at least by the beginning of May.''
Once a veritable landmark at Dairyland at the entrance to the Kishacoquillas Valley, Belle's permanent home is now Hameau Farm, Gay Rodgers said.
"I wanted her here. It was never an option to sell her.''