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A moo-ving rescue story
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Elizabeth is the Charolais cow who won Denise Montrose’s heart and led her to found Samma Farm. - photo by Nikki Childers
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Elizabeth found the bright purple flowers of this thistle plant to be particularly tantalizing and sampled one. - photo by Nikki Childers
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Nestled into the hills on the outskirts of Midway, a “moo” rescue has set down roots.

Samma Farm was established by Denise Montrose earlier this year after a chance meeting with a cow, now named Elizabeth, sent her down a path that turned her life upside down. The choice of name for her farm reflects the connection she has to the location, with Samma meaning “right” in Sanskrit. 

Montrose looks to keep as many cows as she can in her rescue endeavors as her farm grows, giving mistreated or unwanted cows a happy life without worry for the rest of their days.

The cow who started it all, Elizabeth, had been rejected by her mother at birth as the cow had two calves. Due to lack of milk supply, the mother will typically turn one away which means the second calf must be bottle fed. The calf had been rehomed to a neighboring farmer who found himself unable to continue with the specialized care she needed and prepared to sell her. 

Montrose had been visiting her bovine buddy daily and, deeply attached, immediately offered to take her and searched for a receptive rescue both in and out of the state.

“I called rescues across six different states,” said Montrose. “I offered a considerable donation. I told them I’d cover the cost of her care, but none of them would take her because they were all full.”

Having exhausted all options, Montrose realized she couldn’t say goodbye to Elizabeth and committed to adopt her.

She then set to work looking for vacant land to build Samma Farm from the ground up. Her grueling search that added over 4,500 miles to her odometer landed her in Warren County, where the breathtaking view on the property won her over and she knew she had found the perfect place to begin her journey with her new passion for cow rescue.

“I gave up everything for a cow,” said Montrose. “I sold my house in Murfreesboro and moved here in an RV for Elizabeth.”

Not long after arriving, Montrose entertained the idea of finding a companion for Elizabeth when a young heifer by the name of Agnes landed in her lap. The calf was purportedly bought by another party at a cattle auction when she was only a few days old, meaning she needed to be bottle fed. 

When she arrived at Samma Farm some months after that sale, the calf was skinny, her coat was dull and she bore no trust in people. With patience and a gentle hand, the distrustful young cow began to trust Montrose and is now blossoming into a healthy and confident cow.

“The first couple days here, she stayed in the very back corner of the pasture,” recalled Montrose. “That entire time, Elizabeth stayed with her, comforting her.”

Being herd animals, the two cows formed a sister-like bond immediately, with Elizabeth assuming the role of bossy and protective older sister. “She bosses her around and pushes her out of the food sometimes,” said Montrose. “But then she’ll turn around and stand between her and a potential threat.” 

Aside from rescuing cows, Montrose looks to use her farm as a place for fostering a love for nature. She intends to begin hosting classes next year to educate others about gardening, animal reiki and recycling with many other ideas percolating. “I’m a master gardener and growing grass is my specialty,” Montrose explained. “I can grow very nutritious grass that even makes the cows less dependent upon hay and grains.”

Recycling is another passion of Montrose’s as she is always looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle everything possible. On Samma Farm, she already has plans to set up barrels to catch rainwater and use solar panels on the barn to reduce the impact on the environment.

In the fall, Montrose will be hosting a land blessing ceremony and drum circle to bless the land after the loss of lives – both human and bovine – that sadly took place on the property as part of the Trail of Tears, during the battles of the Civil War and as previous pastureland used by many cows. “It is important to me to honor this land and all who came before us,” explains Montrose on her website.

Donations are welcomed in any form, especially monetarily for bales of hay, fruit and vegetable scraps that the cows enjoy, help cleaning up the pasture and spending time with the cows. For more information on how to volunteer, interested parties can visit her website at https://tennesseecowrescue.org/ and click on “Volunteer.”

Samma Farm can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and an ongoing video series of their journey has begun on YouTube under the handle “Samma Farm.”