Moosic and milking will promote Maggie, Rockpile's new heifer

Penny Schroder works on Maggie, a demonstration milking cow that she fought to get for five years so that kids visiting the museum could understand what it takes to milk a cow, albeit a fiberglass one. Photo by Celia Talbot Tobin, Gillette News Record.

GILLETTE — Milk splashed into the pail in a steady one-two stream.

Maggie, the mildly tempered Guernsey cow, stood tamely as Penny Schroder demonstrated the proper technique for milking a cow.

“Squeeze, squeeze, don’t pull, pull,” Schroder instructed.

Maggie’s tail didn’t swish in Schroder’s face. Her muscles didn’t even flinch.

Her mild temperament may be partly influenced by her genetic makeup, which is in fact, fiberglass.

Maggie is an artificial demonstration cow that Schroder worked years to obtain.

Schroder, the education coordinator for the Campbell County Rockpile Museum, battled with the county commissioners for Maggie’s approval for about five years, and ultimately, she was crowned victor.

Now, Schroder welcomes everyone to a cow party featuring Maggie, as well as honored guest Elsie, the old plywood cow that will now be put out to pasture.

Maggie’s entrance to society will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Rockpile Museum and is free to the public.

Maggie arrived at the museum in 2020, and even participated in a brief showing at the Children’s Festival in March that year, but soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and she has been in cowantine ever since.

She fell a little sick and a medical “vet” at the Rockpile had to check up on her and make sure she was all good to go for the cow party, where she is the leading lady.

She’s been cleared for use, and Schroder said the party should be lots of fun for everyone.

“They’ll be milking Maggie and we’ll play moosical chairs and make butter and cowantines (cow-themed valentines) and have all kinds of cow fun,” she said, adding that the party would be throughout the museum.

There also will be a special cake and purple cows, which are ice cream floats made with grape soda.

Maggie will be used by children throughout the community as they learn where milk, butter and cream come from.

“I had kids asking where she was,” Schroder said, as she talked about the different events the Rockpile plans on featuring.

Many children tour the museum for Pioneer School, a joint event with elementary schools in Gillette.

Schroder believes Maggie will be a great replica for kids and teachers to see and use. Maggie can even recycle her own “milk” (water), so she doesn’t have to be refilled after each student’s milking.

Maggie weighs in at 200 pounds. She stands at 5 feet, 3 inches tall and is 7.5 feet long and 31 inches wide.

All in all, she cuts quite the figure and looks very similar to the real thing.

Schroder named her after a fellow employee at the museum, Margaret Kimball.

“She was always having fun with me and harassing me to get the cow, so I named Maggie after her,” Schroder said.

She laughed as she said she wasn’t sure how Kimball feels about having a namesake, since she hasn’t talked to her in quite some time. But she knows that Kimball would be very supportive of having Maggie, finally, at the museum.

Maggie’s life in Gillette will kick-start with a lot of excitement, but she’s sure to be used for years to come in helping children learn an important part of history, as well as how products are still made today.

Schroder will have plenty of time to see her good work come to fruition and watch as Maggie leaves an imprint in the community.

“I knew kids would love her as much as I do,” she said.

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