Caught between a Holstein and a Gander! by Karen Rock (@karenrock5)

His Hometown Girl bannerGrowing up, I looked forward to visiting my grandparents’ Century dairy farm every Sunday. A century farm is a farm that’s been owned, continuously, by the same family for over a hundred years. Mine had raised Holsteins on their land in Malone, New York, for over two hundred plus years. Although Malone is a small, rural town, it’s famous in a way that meant everything to me as a girl. Still does. As a fan of the Little House on the Prairie books, I thrilled at knowing that my family had known the Wilder family and that Almanzo, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband, had grown up in this beautiful countryside. It fired up my imagination to read Farmer Boy and see Malone through Manny’s eyes. Although I loved every book in that series, especially These Happy Golden Years, I reread Farmer Boy the most since it was so close to home.

Like Almanzo, I had my own set of adventures on the farm and though some didn’t end well, as the one I’m about to relate, they’ve all stayed with me and inspired me while writing His Hometown Girl. This particular adventure began while I was spending a summer weekend at my grandparents’ farm house. I loved any excuse to stay there since it meant I got to sleep in the guest room which had cream wallpaper with a pink rosebud pattern, slanted ceilings, a four post bed and a cherry vanity. It made me feel like royalty to stay there, especially since my grandmother always fussed over me and made my favorites like chicken and biscuits and shepherd’s pie.

banner Lola's Blog ToursBest of all, I got to spend time around the farm animals. I helped my Uncle Bob in the barn a bit, though I usually got up too late to do much with the morning milking. Nevertheless, I considered myself good at handling cows and their size and strength had never intimidated me, not with those large brown eyes and docile nature. So when my grandmother told me the goslings were learning to swim in the duck pond, I didn’t think twice about jamming my feet into sneakers and heading for that pasture.

It was a bright summer day, the morning air so crisp I could have taken a bite out of it. I raced down the long driveway shadowed by towering sugar maples and ignored my grandmother’s shout to be careful around the cows. She always said that. I did, however, look for a spot to get through the electric fence where there weren’t any around. I didn’t want them thinking I had carrots in my pockets (which I usually did but forgot in my rush). The black and white Holsteins were a bit of a distance off, their heads lowered as they nibbled at the shorn grass.

I ignored the urge that always had me holding on to electric fences to see how long before I let go, and ducked between the top and middle barbed wires. Immediately, a number of the cows’ heads popped up. I was about thirty feet from the fence before I few started trotting my way. Instead of the friendly lowing I heard whenever I entered the barn, I heard their stomping feet and angry breaths. My heart hammered. Where were the gentle creatures that tickled my fingers with their velvety muzzles? Suddenly the sun felt hot on my neck and a trickle of sweat ran down my back. I eyed the fenced in duck pond area then the electric fence along the driveway. Did I need to make a run for it? If so, the driveway was closer. But through the rushes, I glimpsed a pair of tall Canadian geese and their goslings swimming on the pond. I had to get a closer look.

I raced for the pond and the cows charged. I could hardly believe how aggressive they were. They knew me. And I thought only bulls charged… boy was I wrong! These gals were tough… terrifying actually. I barely made it to the duck pond before the cows stopped short and stared me down across the flimsy divide. My breath couldn’t be caught and it left me as I collapsed to the ground. I was glad to have made it, but frightened about getting back. Would the cows forget about me? Let me sneak away in peace after I got my fill of the adorable baby geese? I hoped so.

I crept to the pond’s edge and sighed in delight as I spotted them. They were so tiny as they paddled after their magnificent parents! As their feathers hadn’t come in, they were still covered with a fuzzy- looking beige and tan down. They kept calling to their mother and the din made me forget, for a little while, about the huffing cows that still hadn’t left the pond’s fence. Lost in that moment, I laid on my stomach and watched the water ripple behind the proud family as they circled the pond. I must have closed my eyes because I loud squawk made them snap back open. The gander had spotted me and he wasn’t happy to have an intruder near his children. I jumped to my feet, remembering times I’d felt the pinch of a beak on my hand when I’d fed overeager birds. Scrambling backwards as the male goose waddled faster than I could have ever imagined, I slipped and fell hard. His nip on my sneaker had me back on my feet and this time, I all out raced to the fence. Only… the cows that had chased me there hadn’t left. I was literally caught between a protective goose and territorial cows. What to do?

Since we didn’t have cell phones back then, and the farm house was too far away to call for help, I raced around the pond, the gander on my heels, honking all the way. I leaped on top of a small house we’d built for them, out of reach of his snapping beak. Hours passed, or at least it felt that way, as I sat on the roof, my knees clutched to my chest. Eventually, the goose returned to his family, but the cows never wandered far, essentially pinning me down.

At last, I saw one of my uncle’s farm hands driving a tractor up the drive and stood up to flag him down. He waved his hands up and down when he entered the pasture, and the cows shied away from him. I was so relieved that I hugged him when we were out of the pasture. Later, at dinner, he stayed to regal everyone with the tale about how I’d been held hostage by a twenty pound goose and a bunch of cows. It was hard not to laugh along with the story, but I never forgot to have a healthy respect for ‘innocent’ farm animals again! 🙂


his hometown girlBlurb:

He’d always managed to best her…

Jodi Chapman will do whatever it takes to get top care for her autistic son. If that means going home and convincing local farmers to sell their land, so be it. Even if her biggest opponent, childhood rival Daniel Gleason, is equally determined to convince farmers to buy into his co-op plan. And he’s not playing fair.

Facing off against Daniel is the last thing Jodi wants. The attraction that’s always fueled their competitiveness is as strong as ever and just as distracting. But with both their futures on the line, and years of distrust between them, how can they ever be on the same side?

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karenrockAbout the Author:

Karen Rock has adored romance since receiving Harlequin Presents books from her grandmother each summer. She formed her Young Adult writing partnership, J.K. Rock- pseudonym for the CAMP BOYFRIEND series, with her sister-in-law and Blaze author, Joanne Rock in 2011. When Karen heard of a call for submissions to Heartwarming, Harlequin’s latest line, she was inspired by the possibilities of writing unforgettable, deeply romantic, tender love stories that mothers would feel comfortable sharing with their daughters. Since then, her first Harlequin, WISH ME TOMORROW came out in September, 2013 and her next novel HIS HOMETOWN GIRL comes out in March, 2014 with three more releases expected this year.

When she’s not writing, Karen loves scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother’s family recipes, hiking the ‘high peaks’, and redesigning her gardens. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch” though they know a lot about love. For more information about Karen’s upcoming books, check out her website at, Facebook page at or follow her on twitter at . She’d love to hear from you!

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