The first time Myrna Loy went to a keg party during young adulthood, it was a celebration of the birthday for a 21-year-old cow.
Now 77, Loy, of La Center, is celebrating the final months of a cow even older than that. Her name is La Wheezie Jefferson, or La Wheezie for short, and she’s 22. Perhaps more incredible than the cow’s age though, is this summer, she gave birth to twins.
Loy named the two male calves Earl and Durl.
A dedicated beef farmer, Loy’s first-ever heifer won Reserve Champion in 4-H.
“Back in Indiana I wanted to join boy’s 4-H. My dad thought it was because of boys. But I really do like cows,” she said, laughing.
During her youth, her grandfather instilled in her that raising animals was a responsibility requiring time and attention. If Loy neglected the heifer, he said he’d take her away.
Decades later, Loy still abides by these rules. From the outside appearance, La Wheezie the cow at 22 is as fit as her descendants from the last few years: Lollipop, Richard, Tootsie Roll and the twins. Sadly, age has taken its toll from the inside. Because she’s lost her teeth, she’s set to be slaughtered in December. Until then, Loy will continue to spoil her beloved cow with alfalfa — La Wheezie’s favorite treat.
Cows are often slaughtered around age 5. If not, they don’t usually continue to breed past 9 or 10 years. But, the bull named Reddy Red who comes by to breed Loy’s other cows was unbothered by his mate’s maturity.
Already, her age makes giving birth impressive. La Wheezie did it twice. In her lifetime of bovine care, Loy said she’s never seen a cow have twins. When Earl and Durl came into the world in June, Loy said the process required the help of neighbors and experts. Months later, Earl is still a bit larger.
At her age, Loy said her herd is mostly a hobby. “It’s a reason to get up and do something every day,” she said.
With her long, deep connection to La Wheezie, she said she’ll stay in the house during the slaughter.
The cow isn’t Loy’s first beloved old pet. In 2018, The Reflector reported on her 22-year-old duck, Mr. Turner. The magpie drake reached a possibly record-breaking age when he died about a year later.
Loy’s love and attention seems a likely contributor to the longevity of her animals. But nearby Fargher Lake being a fountain of animal youth shouldn’t be ruled out, either. Loy’s neighbor, Christy Gillette, has a Nigerian dwarf-alpine mutt of a goat named Chester. He’s 16, which — while not unprecedented — is quite old.
Gillete said the old goat is scrappy, outlasting several predator attacks through fighting back or finding high ground.
“He’s a survivor,” Gillete said, later adding, “He’s a good goat. But he is definitely an odd goat.”