YOU would be hard-pressed to think of a worse place for a drowning cow to wash up during the floods.
Annabelle the stubborn young Jersey cow must have thought she'd died and gone to bovine hell when, after being washed down the raging Bremer River in January, she found solid ground immediately behind the Dinmore meatworks.
Far from welcoming, the sight that greeted her when she wandered up the river bank would have been like something out of her worst nightmares.
Annabelle stumbled straight past the killing floor before she was found by meatworks staff.
But rather than push her to the back of the long line leading down to that magical place where peaceful cattle become prime cuts, the workers kindly took the lost animal under their wing.
Plant manager Murray Wilson said one of the stockmen at the meatworks slung a belt around the lost cow's neck and led her into an open field, where she would spend the next four months without threat of being turned into hamburger.
“She had no brand or NLIS tag, which made it hard to track down her owner,” Mr Wilson said.
“We advertised in the newspaper for a while with no luck, then tried putting her in the quarterly company magazine.
“When that didn't work we started looking for a new home for her.”
Patrick Estate couple Darren and Belinda Campbell ended up responding to the call.
Having lost all of their five Friesian and Dexter cattle in the flood themselves, the pair had been seeking to restock their empty paddocks.
“To see our cows wash away before our very eyes was very difficult – it was just the way they looked back at us,” Mrs Campbell said.
“But for someone to now offer us this beautiful cow is quite special – it eases the pain a little.”
The couple's friend and neighbour, Veronica Nutley, turned up at Dinmore with a horse float this week to take Annabelle to her new home.
But Annabelle, as stubborn and as unaware of her fortune as she was, took some real convincing before she would agree to hop aboard the trailer.
“It's funny because when cattle come here they usually only end up going one way,” Mr Wilson said.
“This would have to be the first time, that I'm aware of, that a cow has come into the meatworks, and then left the meatworks in one piece.”
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