When Abby, sanctuary manager, asked me if it would be okay to allow Freedom and Summer, our two youngest bovines, out in the big pasture with the rest of the animals, I asked when. Oh, now? Panic attack!! Will they be big enough to defend themselves? Will the other cows like them? Will they know not to run off into the hills and abandon ship? WILL THEY STILL LOVE ME? Abby patiently answered all my paranoia-based questions and, finally, I just had to agree - everyone else was fine with it, so there (no one said it like that, of course, it was just implied).
Freedom and Summer have been spending the past three months in a smaller pasture with Matt, the rooster, and a rotating cast of goats and potbellied pigs. They were getting to be a lot more rambunctious and ready for a new scene with bovine friends. Cattle are not like any other species when it comes to introducing new animals. Even though they are the largest animals here, they are by far the gentlest with each other. With any other introduction, we'd be on guard ready to intervene when things got too rough. Not so with cattle. The second Freedom and Summer were released, they became part of the herd. It's that simple.
Nicholas, the nearly two-year-old Jersey (also from auction), was overjoyed. Finally, cattle he can play with - at 12 and 13, Howie and Sadie are well past the age of "frolicking". Nicholas was extremely gentle with both calves and modified his head-butting to their small stature. Howie, not so much. When Freedom challenged Howie to a head-butting contest, Howie obliged and accidentally tossed Freedom a good three feet. Undeterred, Freedom came back for more. Sadie, who is from the dairy industry herself, was interested in sniffing and grooming the calves.
As I write this, all five of the cattle are up by the big barn, just hanging out. I spent time taking photographs of them and, as I left, both Freedom and Summer mooed to me - THEY STILL LOVE ME. This is good. Howie even took time out of his busy schedule to put his head on my shoulder and drool on me. How's that for love?
Now, I took way too many photos to share in this blog. But they are up on our flickr page, so you can see them in all their glory.
Summer and Howie touch noses
Nicholas waiting for Summer to play
Nicholas using Jedi mind tricks to try and get Summer to play
A frog (seriously, he's a frog) <--- WRONG! He's a toad, apparently. :)