By Shelby Brooks
FOR six years, a colossal cow has been the heart and soul of a quiet street in Korumburra.
Neighbours stop to say hello to Molly and bring their children to spoil her with apples.
So, on Friday when the neighbourhood found out it was Molly’s 18th birthday, a big party was held in her honour.
Invitations were sent by neighbour Fiona Bilbrough, who also arranged for banners, balloons and party food and cake, of both the human and bovine variety.
“It’s as much as a celebration to Janilyn and Phil for rearing this cow for 18 years through love and dedication as much as it is Molly’s 18th birthday,” Fiona said.
“I think it’s the most beautiful, gracious thing that a person can do, to just love their animals and look after them – to get a cow to this age is a feat in itself.”
Janilyn and Phil Gager rescued Molly in 2002 as a five-day-old calf, and hand-raised her along with another calf named Maddy.
Molly was a twin and a freemartin, meaning she is infertile and has lots of extra testosterone, explaining her giant stature.
“They were healthy and happy and brought up on plenty of love,” Janilyn said.
Janilyn described the two cows as “soul mates”, so when Maddy died a few months ago, Molly was left heartbroken and lonely.
“They were such close friends and just so loving and compassionate and good to each other,” she said.
Neighbours gathered at Molly’s paddock on Nason Street at her feeding time on Friday to sing happy birthday and give her lots of love, pats and apples.
Neighbour Phill Dempster from Burra Brewery brought Molly some warm beer grain, which she adored- a treat Phill has been spoiling her with for several years.
“It was an outrageously fun afternoon,” Janilyn said.
Janilyn’s memories of visiting her grandfather’s farm in Michigan sparked a long-term desire to surround herself with calves and other rescue animals.
“Raising them (the cows) has been the nicest experience of my whole life,” she said.
“Molly is such an important part of the neighbourhood.
“When it gets night and the lights are still on and she wants more hay she looks at us intently and moos.
“Pets bring so much joy to us, and people are recognising that so much more now we’re in COVID-19 lockdown.
“If you don’t sell them, or you don’t eat them, you love them.?