Today The Bullvine joins with Beverly Donovan and Richard Caverly of Benton Maine during a sad moment in the breeding journey of Deer Hill Ayrshires, as they mourn the passing of Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca 3E-94. Francesca, wasn’t just a cow who had great show ring accomplishments, she was a cow who won the hearts and minds of breeders the world over. She was one of those rare cows that transcended her breed to be loved by all. Beverly and Richard took amazing care of “Frannie” and gained a close friend in return.
A Firm Foundation
Richard recalls how they found Francesca. “Beverly was looking to add a strong foundation animal to her Deer Hill herd. We visited Craig and Bonnie Hawksley, as Craig has always been the most helpful mentor and friend. He has an uncanny ability to breed Ayrshire cattle.” It was a great consultation that netted results. “Francesca was discussed and later purchased as the cow that would become a focus of Beverly’s Ayrshire passion.”
Dedication, Commitment and Support
Once the choice was made, the focus at Deer Hill became Francesca’s development. Richard describes that attention to detail. “Beverly’s passion to seek the greatest things for each and every one of her animals is something found in very few individuals. If it is chore time, no matter what the job may be, Beverly is there to provide for the animals first and foremost.” He points out that this care is not a 9 to 5 event at Deer Hill. “From the time her feet hit the floor in the morning, Bev’s sole attention is for her animals. We also have the incredible support of a team of trusted and cherished friends, family, and people willing to share their successes and help with our problems.”
At Deer Hill, Francesca, fondly known as Frannie, made high records including 6-09 (305 days), 34,560 pounds, 4.3% Fat and 3.1% Protein and has had three calves the oldest a son Deer Hill Francis EX91. Francis is the main herd sire at Deer Hill and his two Calimero sisters, Princess, now a yearling and Pixiedust, born in early August 2012, are very promising heifers. Francesca’s feats are even more amazing when you know that she calved six times before her eighth birthday.
Francesca Truly Was a Saint!
Obviously, overcome with the loss they must face, Richard explains how Francesca’s perfection was the motivation that inspired all of them. “In many ways she was both magical and determined. She would make you turn your head with her beauty and fascinate you with her ability to excel as a cow, while she appeared to be running on cruise control!” He credits Frannie with presenting two sides to her own story. “On the one hand she made everything easy. Yet was the first to show you that nothing should be taken for granted. She would take unexpected opportunities to bring you into reality as she guided you through a dream.”
A Shining List of Achievements
Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca was the Grand Champion of the 2012 International Ayrshire Show at World Dairy Expo. She was the winning entry from the Six-Year-Old & Over Class, best uddered, the senior champion and the grand champion female of the show, the Nasco type & production award winner, and total performance winner of the show. Francesca was also the recipient of the Udder Comfort $1,000 Cash Award. This was another crowning achievement after being the 2010 Grand Champion and the 2011 Reserve Grand Champion. In 2012, she was the Grand Champion of the Eastern States Exposition for the third time in her show career, and also won Best Uddered Cow, the Nasco Type & Production Award, Total Performance Award, and the Milk Fat Production Award, all awards that she had won in 2011 at that show, too. In 2012 she was also the winning Mature Cow, Senior Champion, Grand Champion and Best Udder at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Earlier this year, Francesca won the All-World Title for Best 6 to 7 Year Old Ayrshire from the World Ayrshire Federation. In both 2010 and 2011, she was named Unanimous All-American. Deer Hill Farm has shown Francesca 6 times at national shows in the U.S.A. and won Grand Champion at 5 of the 6 and Reserve Grand Champion at the other.
The “Frannie Pack”
As already mentioned, Francesca had 6 calves before she was 8 years old. Richard describes her offspring. “The first 3 born at Sweet Pepper were all males. Deer Hill’s first arrival was also a male who we named Francis. Francis is the hub of the Deer Hill program as his calves have truly been incredible and he currently is the service sire of choice with every female within the other families here at Deer Hill.” With justifiable pride, he points out that her daughters excel for him and Beverly as well. “Fairytale Princess is Francesca’s first daughter and the epitome of what we look for in a young female. Fairytale Pixiedust is the family baby, who like momma and siblings inspires us to go to the barn! We are blessed to be working with Craig and Bonnie with Francesca’s dam Feather. At 15 years old she was raised to Excellent 93 in a system that only allows for a 94-point maximum score. She has been a show Grand Champion as well, as recently as this summer at the state fair.” As expected there is true affection for the success of others in Francesca’s family. “She has two sisters who have both won shows in milking form this year. Faith is Francesca’s sister here at Deer Hill. She is a June baby who is truly precious to us.”
The Frannie Dream Team is Amazing Both “At Home” and “Away”
As Francesca’s story unfolded Bev and Richard were supported, uplifted and mentored by many others who saw the potential and possibilities facing Francesca. They recognize how much that has meant to them. “With such great family, friends, neighbors, and my employer, we always felt safe with our “home team” watching out for us!” It takes many players to pull together a winning team and Richard starts with “Pam Jeffery – because every great team is known by its cheerleaders!” He gives special recognition to Ernest Kueffner, Terri Packard, Gary and Melissa Bowers, Steve McDonald and Julie Hemp because, as Richard points out “These great individuals let us be part of their wonderful teams at the shows! Team Arethusa, Mac-Ayr, M & J Heifer Care, and Lencrest. So many people, such wonderful individuals! The veterinarians, foot trimmers, truckers, fitters, and that one very special lady who always looked Frannie up to make sure her tail looked glamorous (Joyce Thomas).Also, the ever-important leadsmen Steve White, Gary Bowers, Jim Strout and Mike Duckett.” Richard doesn’t leave out one other important group, the Judges, who contributed to Francesca’s success. “ It was always their decision in the end and for the most part they all did agree!
Ode To Francesca
The support, friendship and love Frannie has received through the years is amazing. “People whom we do not know spent their vacation time and hard earned dollars to travel millions of miles to see her. She brought them to the coliseum and back to the straw pack where they admired her and often had their photo taken with her.” Obviously, Francesca was more than one of the cows she was a superstar at the shows and “one of the family” all the time.
Life Lessons from Francesca
Richard is thankful and declares “It is an honor to share such an experience with so many! For everyone who loved Frannie you all shared in the dream in your own special way. Frannie touched a generation, and if they learned one thing from her she would want them to know “Dream big. Dedicate Yourself and Follow the Dream” Francesca started out in the little state of Rhode Island. Bev gave her homes in Massachusetts and Maine and Francesca conquered the world with love and friendship.”
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Bev and Richard have been married 2 ½ years and Francesca has been a shared dream. Faced with a future without her, they sum it up quite eloquently. The magic of Francesca is that she has excelled at showing, milking, producing nice offspring, and winning the hearts of people all over the world. She has been a magical fairytale in our lives by making Bev’s dreams come true. The future may bring more fairytale magic to Deer Hill Farm, and in time, we will see if the ‘Magic of Francesca’ continues through her offspring.
“Loved by All”
Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca