Let me start this tale about a porcupine and a cow by mentioning that we NEVER can go away when we’re milking because I’m the one who milks Miss Amelia and you can’t skip a day or the milk will fill her udder and that’s uncomfortable as well as unhealthy. Unlike feeding a dog or parakeet, milking a cow is something most friends can’t do easily. (If you can and you live nearby, I’d like us to become better friends.)

I was scheduled to teach a bee class at a farm festival in Oregon and we wanted to stay overnight so we taught our farm intern, Lane, to milk Missy and Joseph showed Andrew, our other farm intern, how to take care of anything else she’d need. 

Off we went. Don’t most tales about mishaps start with something like that? …. thinking we had everything handled, off we went.


The next day, 20 minutes before I was scheduled to teach my class, we got a call that Miss Amelia had a run-in with a porcupine.




When a cow is curious, she’ll get quills in her nose, just like a dog who’s been sniffing around. Miss Amelia, however, decided she just plain didn’t like the look on the porcupine’s face, so she tried to bump it with her head and horns to tell it to get out of her yard. 

The porcupine took advantage of this situation to give her a PORCU-PUNCTURE treatment.

A quick call to our vet (on a Sunday) who suggested if we were handy with pliers, that’s all he was going to do. But he said to do it soon as the quills would cause swelling and it would be harder the longer we waited. We were four hours away even if we left that minute so we asked our neighbor Brenda to step in and cover for us. Brenda did and here are photos of how that went.


Brenda brought her needle-nose pliers and removed 148 porcupine quills from Miss Amelia’s forehead. Lane and Andrew, our farm interns, helped steady her.

Apparently the porcupine handled that situation well as we didn’t find one anywhere out in the field. I’m going to guess Miss Amelia will rethink that idea next time she sees a porcupine waddling across the pasture. Live and let live.

Brenda, Lane and Andrew gave her a clay masque to draw out anything that might be itchy.


I think the quills did some acupuncture on her cranky point — she’s been sweet as can be ever since. The clay masque surely helped, I know she felt special. The only thing she didn’t get was the little cucumber slices to go over her eyelids. We took her halter off and sent her out in the field with a bin full of cow treats (carrots, cabbage and beets) to take her mind off the whole thing.

Miss Amelia got the cow version of a spa treatment and I think she kinda liked it.


Jacqueline & Joseph