Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nicholas is Handsome


I'm not even lying, Nicholas is super handsome.

I met Nicholas when he was less than a week old. He was stolen from his mother. It's normal business on a dairy farm, maternal deprivation. To sell milk to you requires stealing milk from him. Can't have a calf drinking his own mother's milk!

He was bought at auction for $15, tied up outside of an apartment complex in Berkeley, and left with hay.

You do know what a day-old calf needs, right? His mom and her milk! Ruminants, like cattle, cannot consume hay at such a young age - literally, they cannot do it.

Nicholas spent several weeks in my office. It was the middle of winter when he arrived so darkness enveloped the sanctuary each morning when I would arrive for work. I would creep into the office and step carefully, quietly over his snoozing form. I made his bottles and fed him his milk, admired his soft down fur, and wished with all my heart that he could have his own mother. She should be raising him.

For the next four years, Nicholas was a terror. Not in an evil way, just in an I-Am-A-Teenager-Forevah way. He would kick his heels up and race towards any human he saw. Sometimes he would randomly kick out his back leg, and then flee the scene in joy. Humans were more toys than "someones".

It has only been in the past two years that he has come into his own sense of maturity. It takes bovines nearly five years to reach their adult size. They remain "babies" for 1-2 years, enter their teens for the next 3-5, and then calm down.

If he had been raised by his own mother, he would have learned respect a lot sooner. No human can replace a bovine mother and teach what needs to be taught.

When Nicholas and the other cows are in the pasture near the parking lot at the sanctuary where I work, I will slip into the meadow and find Nicholas. He will be eating grass and will pretend he does not notice me. Some mornings he will lift his head and acknowledge me, other mornings he won't. I lean into him and rub his neck, his back, the inside of his fuzzy ears. Some mornings, Nicholas will walk away - food is more interesting. Most mornings, I will know he accepts my presence when he leans, ever so gently, into my body. Peace.

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