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Lessons from my favorite cow

Contributed by Jaydyn Isiminger Published on 16 June 2016
Jaydyn Isiminger had a special bond with a Jersey

Editor’s note: Jaydyn Isiminger of Union City, Pennsylvania, recently wrote this speech as part of her participation in the Pennsylvania Jersey Queen contest. This speech is reprinted with her permission.

It was a rainy, yucky April day when a little girl with wild curly hair was looking at calves at the Mercer County Sale. She spotted a little Jersey calf with beautiful brown eyes and big yellow tags in her ears, and she ran as fast as she could across the barn.



After looking the calf over and deciding that she had the makings of a great show calf, the little girl ran back across the barn to find her dad and started the begging process. I’m pretty sure every young girl has done this begging at least once – or possibly every time a sale comes around.

That little girl did get that calf, and she was in love. Van De Doc Z Cynthia Zinnia, better known as Zinny, was the calf that got her started into the Jersey breed and 4-H.

That little girl with wild curly hair was me. My name is Jaydyn Isiminger, and I would like to share my favorite cow story and what she taught me. Zinny made me fall in love with Jerseys. Zinny would have been 9 years old on March 16.

She only had one heifer, Ziva, that I delivered all by myself when I was 12 and my parents were out of town attending a funeral. Every other calf she had was a bull. That is one of the first things Zinny taught me – sometimes you just aren’t lucky enough to get heifers.

Two months ago, right before Christmas, I received another big lesson from Zinny. I now refer to my lesson as “the day.” If somebody asks me about “the day,” my voice will crack. By “the day,” I mean the day I came home from a winning basketball game – and was told my very first cow friend, Zinny, had died. It hurt then and still does.


How could this have happened? She had her own special stall, and I would visit her every day after school. In my mind, Zinny was going to see me leave for college in a couple of years. Even today, I miss her and sometimes I cry, but I remember everything Zinny has done for me.

Jaydyn credits her favorite cow, Zinny, for helping her to appreciate photos and the memoriesBecause of her, I became a good showman, I learned how to judge dairy cows and pick good bulls to improve my herd, and I learned some life lessons along the way. I would like to share with you five things that Zinny – and our relationship – has taught me.

5. Inspiration: When I was younger, I hated speeches, and I hated talking in front of my classmates. Because of Jerseys, I was able to go to Jersey conventions to stand in front of a crowd and experience talking about things that were important to me. Granted, my mom pushed me to do speeches, but Zinny was the inspiration.

Speech after speech, I was getting better and better. Zinny inspired me to do more speeches, just like Stephen Curry may inspire you to play basketball or a supreme champion Jersey you see may inspire you to work harder to achieve your dreams of the champion banner.

4. Memories: Memories are in our minds, but pictures help remind of us special moments in our lives. Make sure you take plenty of pictures so you can capture these memories. We all know someone who goes overboard on the pictures. Every time you turn around, or even when you aren’t looking, their camera shutter is snapping away.

I can remember posing for a picture after a long day in the show ring and thinking that my mouth is going numb from smiling so long. My mom is the overboard crazy camera lady. But now, I appreciate all the little moments that were captured in pictures of Zinny and me. I can be continually reminded of everything she taught me in her almost 9 years.

3. Love: Love every day like it may be their or your last. Do you remember the last time you got kicked by a cow because you forgot to do the special trick to make them comfortable? How about the glance of your favorite cow as she looked up over the backs of the other cows to catch your eye as you walked in the barn?


Or even the last time you gave your parents a hug? A good rub under the chin to a simple kiss on the cheek is all that’s needed. You never know when someone or something will be gone in your life. Love is best done in the heart and shown by our actions to those we love.

2. Small things: Sometimes the small things are more important than the hustle and bustle of life. I remember small moments more than the overall “large picture.” The simple rub on Zinny’s stomach before I milked her or she would kick at me, the special bling show halter I had to use to show her or giving Zinny the hay core after I fed out most of the baleage.

The moments of sitting on the curb of Zinny’s stall and she would nuzzle my shoulder. Just moments in time, but they mean so much more. These are the small things I will always remember.

1. Live: This is the one lesson that means the most to me. Live every day to the fullest. All you have to do is do the things you love – like spending a weekend with Jersey breeders, breeding for that excellent cow, or walking your prize Jersey on the tanbark.

Participate in life instead of just watching it pass by. Compete in convention contests, school activities or to win the bid of that special calf at a sale.

My experience with Jerseys has taught me to be inspired, make memories, love to the fullest, enjoy the small things and to live every day like there is no tomorrow. If you follow Zinny’s five lessons, I believe you will have a successful and satisfied life.  PD

PHOTO 1: Jaydyn Isiminger had a special bond with a Jersey cow named Zinny.

PHOTO 2: Jaydyn credits her favorite cow, Zinny, for helping her to appreciate photos and the memories they capture. From left to right is the Isiminger family and some favorite cows in 2013: Cheetah, shown by Jordanna Isiminger; Mickey, shown by Junia Isiminger; Picabo, shown by Mike Isiminger; and Zinny, shown by Jaydyn Isiminger. Photos courtesy Isiminger family.