Who: Marlin and Mary Mayer have lived in Mesa for 23 years. They came from Minnesota where they had a dairy farm. Marlin, 70, worked for United Dairymen of Arizona for 18 years before retiring five years ago. Mary, 65, retired from office work at Monte Vista Village Resort after 18 years.
How the collection began: Working with cows all our lives, it was easy to get started collecting them. We started collecting cows after our move to Arizona.
How many pieces: We have more than 1,200 cows, mostly Holstein (black and white) cows. Many came from garage sales to retirement gifts. We always find one or more on our trips we take, too. Our family (three children and three grandchildren) have done a wonderful job finding unusual ones for our Christmas gifts each year. There are so many different cows, from stuffed cows to dishes to cow games, including “Dairyopoly” to “Tip the Cows.” We also have several that moo.
Where you showcase your collection: We have them all on display someplace in our home. Mary spent one week last summer giving each cow a bath and a new shelf to be on.
The prized piece: We do not have one special cow. (With 1,200, how could you?)
What else you collect: Mary collected salt and pepper shakers for more than 20 years, but had to sell them when the many cows took over.