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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 10:52 GMT
Cow saves NZ farmer from floods
The waters of the Stilliguamish River rise and approach a farm west of Silvana, New Zealand
Floods have killed at least two people and left hundreds homeless
A New Zealand dairy farmer who was swept away by the floods lashing the country has been saved by Cow 569.

Kim Riley, 43, said she was trying to head off half her herd who were moving towards the floodwaters, when she was caught in the current herself.

Struggling in the raging water, she clung onto the neck of a passing Friesian and was pulled to safety.

Most of the wild weather is thought to have passed, but more showers are forecast across the country.

Mrs Riley, from Woodville, 130km (80 miles) north of Wellington, said she was hampered by her wet weather gear and gum boots, and members of her herd, who kept swimming over her.

"I drank a fair bit of water and it was foul muck. There was lots of flotsam around and weeds get tangled up in your arms: it was quite exhausting," she told local media.

She's an old cow, an ugly old tart, but I'll have to say 'thank you' to her
Kim Riley

She said she really started to worry when she tried to grab hold of a passing tree, and the top of a fence, but missed both as she was swept away by the current.

"I thought if I was washed into the main river I would be gone," she said.

That was when the farmer spotted her salvation.

"I looked back and saw one of the last cows bearing down on me. As she went by I threw my arm over her neck, just sort of grabbed her mane. It was so nice feeling her warm body...

"I just laid back and relaxed ... take me on home," she said.

Mrs Riley said that when they reached solid ground, 30 metres (98 feet) away, they both sat there "puffing, and shaking a little bit".

She said she was delighted to find most of her cows gathered on higher ground. All but about 15 of her 350-strong herd survived.

And she said she knew which member was responsible for her rescue.

"She's an old cow, an ugly old tart, but I'll have to say 'thank you' to her," Mrs Riley said.

The BBC's Candice Talberg
"Some rural districts are still in a state of emergencey"

New Zealand hit by summer storms
17 Feb 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: New Zealand
05 Nov 03  |  Country profiles

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