- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (AP) - The trouble with the typical ho-hum festive home tour is the lack of a bodacious bovine.

But that won’t be a problem in the upcoming “Cherish Our Memories” Christmas home tour Friday and Saturday, organized by the Taylorville Tourism Council. This moving experience will feature a cuddly 500-pound Angus-mix breed calf named Nova, who will be available for petting and hugs at the Countryside Veterinary Service offices, one of the stops on the tour.

Having a vet’s office on a home tour might seem a departure from the standard residential herd. But this sumptuous new building, owned by the splendidly named Dr. Stacey Funderburk, kind of looks like a big home decked out for Christmas. And it’s going all out with the memory theme by displaying rather exotic, and scary, veterinary instruments from the past.

One of the vets who works there, Dr. Meghan Ward, shows off some metal pincers used back in the day to squeeze hooves to locate infected bits.

“If the animal kicked, you found it,” says Ward.



The search for some more user-friendly memories prompted the tourism council event planners to push for an example of a happy animal story from the heartland. Ward says the vet practice’s favorite hunk of living leather, Nova, was an easy choice. She will be headquartered at the practice both days doing that “cattle are lowing thing,” as in the “Away in a Manager” hymn, and accepting food gifts, which the practice will give to visitors to give to Nova.

Ward was there to help with Nova’s difficult birth in April (she got stuck) and is fast friends with the cow and her owners, the Dewerff family, who run WP Farms out in the country near Owaneco.

Head of household Wayne Dewerff was away watching a baseball game with son Brock on the day Nova made her troubled entry into the world, and the job of assisting Ward fell to Wayne’s wife, Pam, daughter Megan and her boyfriend Zach Rhodes, who was also roped in to help.

It was a long and difficult job, with much pulling and manipulating, and Nova’s mom, sadly, did not survive the complicated birth. Nova nearly didn’t either, but good veterinary care and the loving attentions of Megan Dewerff eventually saw her pull through.

“For the first few days after she was born, I spent the night in the barn, and I was feeding her every four hours,” says Megan Dewerff, 23, a senior at Eastern Illinois University studying special education. “I called her Nova because she came in with a bang, like one of those exploding stars.”

Raised and cared for by people, Nova is more family than livestock. She likes being petted, is friends with everyone, including Bosco, the Dewerffs’ Doberman, and likes smooching people’s hair, resulting in the mother of all cowlicks.

Megan Dewerff works at a day care and has brought children out to visit Nova as her fame has spread. But even the farm family were a little taken aback when the vet’s office suggested kicking things up a notch with the home tour idea. “I remember I called up my dad to tell him and he said, ‘Are you kidding me?,’ ” Megan Dewerff says.

Not that anyone fears Nova will be on the horns of a dilemma when the black heifer with the white-splashed face steps out in front of a bigger audience.

“She is very inquisitive and very loving,” Megan Dewerff says. “And she’s always wanting snuggles.”

Nova is also destined to live long and prosper for many Christmases to come. Her role on the farm will be to produce new calves, and she will live out her days in the barn and pasture without touring anybody’s holiday kitchen as an entree.

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Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, https://bit.ly/1YFQ0JM

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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