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Mourning a Dear Old Neighbor

A young community is grieving the loss of an old cow, a beloved neighborhood mascot named Silverina, owned by one of the area’s pioneering families.

Since the gray Jersey cow died last week at 33, apparently of old age, a memorial of flowers, banners, cards and balloons has been growing on the fence of her corral off Plano Trabuco Road.

One of the posters has a crayon drawing of a cow with wings and says: “I finally flew over the moon.”

“I was one of her many admirers,” says Pam Stewart, a resident of Coto de Caza, who drove by Silverina for more than 10 years. “In a community that is so fragmented, she brought us together.”

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A group of girls from Robinson Elementary School recently stopped by to leave bunches of pink and red flowers and several notes, one reading: “We’ll miss you.”

“Silverina has been here since I moved here,” student Elizabeth Bradford said, “and it’s on my way to school.”

Many families have stopped by for a front-porch chat with Silverina’s owners, Charlie and Anita Martinez, 89 and 91, and some of their extended family.

“Granny still has the baby bottle she fed Silverina with when she was born,” said Doug Denniston, the couple’s son-in-law. “People say Silverina was a reminder of how the canyon used to be.”

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The Martinezes moved into the Trabuco Canyon area 65 years ago. They held fast to their country lifestyle and simple pleasures: picnics in open fields under the stars; the sight and sound of the herds of cattle and sheep; and the coyotes’ nightly serenade.

Through the years, they refused to sell their 2-acre farm, even as subdivisions sprung up around them. Charlie Martinez built their home by himself from the ground up 20 years ago, without any help from the bank.

They’ve owned plenty of animals over the years and raised their own cattle, Denniston said. One offspring was Silverina, who grew horns like a bull.

The Martinezes still own a nanny goat, a horse, a rooster and eight chickens and hope to get another cow. One of the newest banners on the memorial cries out: “Where is Silverina the Second?”

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