The Greatest Comeback

Aspen Silva

Aspen Silva and Giggles - photo by Karen Knutsen

Dedication like young Aspen’s are part of what motivates us and deepens our love of the industry. After reading her self-written journey, we decided to publish it for everyone to enjoy. ~ DairyBusiness & HolsteinWorld Staff

Aspen Silva was born and raised in Modesto, California on her Great-Grandparents dairy, Silvamoon Dairy. She spent most of time as a child on the dairy helping to feed the calves and watching her dad milk the cows. Aspen has shown dairy cattle ever since she was four years old in Peewee Showmanship, showing when she was old enough to join 4-H and purchase her first cow. Her first, and best according to Aspen, purchase was “Giggles”, which she purchased at only nine years old. Aspen attends Modesto High School where she is a Junior and is active in Modesto's FFA chapter as a Chapter Reporter and a Stanislaus/Tuolumne Sectional Sentinel. She is also very involved with 4-H, being the Shiloh 4-H Chapter President and Stanislaus Hi 4-H Vice President.

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Goldcrest Atwood Giggles is an aged cow that did the unthinkable this past year, she claimed the best cow at the whole show! I bought Giggles as a fall heifer in 2009 from a good friend of my dad.  I thought she was going to be a good heifer to start my 4-H project.  Plus, she was so young that I had no intentions of doing anything in the show ring with her. Giggles became my greatest friend and the biggest pain in my rear. I brought her to every show that she could go to; she even went to the California State Fair as a dry cow, just so I’d have the chance to show her.

The first thing you think to yourself when you look at Giggles is, “my goodness she is a very large cow”. Giggles is big. She is 1,500 pounds of love walking on four legs. She measures 65 inches tall and milks about 100 pounds a day.

Over time, Giggles has made me cry multiple times throughout her life. I almost lost her to pneumonia when she was a two-year-old. She got better but then got her head stuck in the stanchions, not once but twice, almost causing her to go blind.

Her most recent accident happened on the way to the Western Classic Junior Dairy Show. Giggles was in the trailer en route, with five other cows, when my dad was forced to slam of his brakes.  Moments after, there was a loud sound that came out of the trailer. It was Giggles! She had gone down. My dad untied her and tried to get her up, but she wasn’t budging.

At the show grounds, my dad tried again the get her up, but she was still unable to do so. She could only crawl. Giggles crawled her way out of the trailer on to the concrete. From there, she crawled her way into the bed of straw where she laid for two days. Sometimes she would try to stand, but she just didn’t have enough strength to get all the way up. We did everything over the next few days to get her to stand, including the use of ice packs and heating pads over her rear legs and back.

On the second day we knew that Giggles had to get up or I was going to have to say goodbye to my best friend. It took the help of four guys, and her own determination, to get her to stand.  Finally, she stood for six hours, going back down for another twelve. We tried again and the next time it only took the strength of one person for her to stand, but she laid down again for another six hours. Finally, on the third try Giggles was able to get enough momentum going to get up on her

own! We were ecstatic for her, knowing she wasn’t out of the woods yet.  I took her out of the bedding and tried to walk her to the nearby grass. I knew if I could get her to walk that it would help her joints. I walked her every time she got up for thirty minutes and, luckily, she was able to get home with no trouble. For the most part, Giggles was completely healed, except for some fear of the trailer.

When we felt that she was well enough to travel and show again, I entered her in the California State Black and White. We had no trouble there or on the way back home. On the day of that show, I was extremely nervous because it could be her last showing. Waiting at ringside, I stepped back to appreciate the strength and love that she had given me throughout her life. Giggles walked out of the show ring that day as 1st placed Age Cow in the Junior and Open Division, Senior Champion in the Junior Division and Grand Champion in the Junior Division.

I took Giggles to the California State Fair, hoping that she would do well and get there safely. I was so glad when we arrived with no traveling or health problems and am very happy to say that we did quite wonderfully. Giggles walked out of the show ring with 1st place Age Cow in the Junior and Open Division, Senior Champion in the Junior Division and Open, Reserve Grand Champion Udder, and Grand Champion in the Junior and Open Division.

My clumsy Giggles claimed the best cow at the whole show!

Today, Giggles, is enjoying her pen with her pen mate, eating all the alfalfa and oats that she can stuff in to her mouth. She’s hosed down every day to keep cool during the warm days in Modesto, California. She enjoys all the attention that she is getting above all the rest of the animals at the dairy. Our endless love for each other will continue to grow every day as she looks at me, telling me with her eyes to get alfalfa for her. The story of Giggles having the Greatest Comeback will be known for years to come.