Typical pet owners are greeted at the door by a dog hopping up for attention and batting their legs with an animated tail or a cat nuzzling their ankles before puttering off to be alone again. The Ginn family is routinely greeted at the driveway by three animals much bigger than any dog — and so are all the people driving by.
On the outskirts of Cool Springs, just a couple miles from the CoolSprings Galleria, drivers relish in a little hint of country living as they pass a 3.5-acre property with cows in the yard, often right up by the fence watching the moving traffic. Jennifer and Bobby Ginn’s yard is a common destination for kids on a scavenger hunt looking to take a picture with livestock or for families to stop just for a few joyful moments.
“We get notes in the mailbox … on a pretty regular basis, where people are just thankful that, when they stop here going by, they have a little bit of a taste of still being country,” Bobby Ginn said.
Bobby has lived in Williamson County for about 35 years. He and his wife moved into their house on the corner of Franklin Road and Mallory Station Road in 2014 with their daughter, LeeAnna. While the yard hadn’t seen livestock since before 2006, the family knew it had a history with animals (a cow and horse used to live on that property, and a longhorn steer, too, at one point), and they wanted to bring it back.
The family didn't want a horse, so a cow it was. In fact, they brought home two black angus cows one day, not realizing just how big they would get.
“They got to where everything was food,” Jennifer said.
After saying a heartbreaking goodbye to Smarty and Handsome, they now have three mid-size miniature Hereford steers: Squirt, Cash and Romeo, who are here to stay.
Each cow has a story behind his name. Cash, Jennifer’s best pal, has a cent symbol on his side, and Romeo has a white heart on his forehead. Squirt’s story is a bit less flattering, as it stems from an incident in the car as they brought him home for the first time.
Contrary to what some passersby have assumed, these cows truly are pets. Bobby and Jennifer still have full-time careers as a locksmith and tax accountant, respectively, and they get their meat and dairy from Sam’s Club, not their front yard.
Though they’re about 20 times heavier, the cows are not completely unlike dogs. They go where the action is.
“They are nosy, nosy, nosy,” Jennifer said. “If there’s an accident [on the road], these cows are right up there on the corner.”
They’re also best friends. The cows don’t like to be separated, so it was an anxious time for Squirt and Cash when the mischievous Romeo, not unlike his namesake, snuck out to a forbidden place beyond the fence.
Luckily, the few times the cows have gotten out, the Ginns have been able to corral them back into the yard before they got into much trouble.
They’re certainly spoiled like dogs, too, Jennifer noted. She backed up her claim as she brought half a loaf of bread up to the fence, and all three steers came marching over, drooling in anticipation of their favorite treat. They’ll eat anything carb-heavy, she said, except Eggos. They don’t like Eggos.
While the family didn't own animals before buying this property aside from a cat, upon moving out of a subdivision and getting their hands on some land, they said it just felt right. Now, they can’t see their lives any other way, saying if they were to ever move to a new home, the cows would come with them.
“Most people raise them for the meat, the beef, the business,” Jennifer said. “But if you have them for pets, they become a part of the family, and you think about them.”
Certainly, other Franklin residents think about them too. These unique pets have given the Ginns a fun way to connect with people in the community — all their neighbors know that house on the corner with cows in the yard.