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A Buddy in Need is a Buddy Indeed

I wish you could have seen it. I wish everybody could have seen it.

Last night, just before sundown, so the light was too dim for us to get pictures, the first of the cows from New Jersey arrived. (These are the five cows that became a Facebook cause when the people who had been keeping them as pets decided to send them to slaughter. Unlike with Bill and Lou, they welcomed the offer of sanctuary. We were going to take two brothers, with the other three going to a private home, but now it looks like all five will come here.)

As the trailer rumbled up the driveway, the cows in the front pasture kept chomping at the hay ring. With so much work going on due to our expansion, they’ve gotten used to seeing trailers going by and didn’t suspect that this one had a cow inside. Up at the top of the hill, the new cow stepped out, confused and unhappy after a long ride. Sighting him, the cows– young and old alike —ran up the hill in their excitement to meet a new friend.

I will never, ever, forget the sight of the nine of them eagerly rushing and the energy of pure, friendly curiosity that radiated from them. The new cow stumbled toward them, regaining his equilibrium, and then took himself on a shambling survey of the pasture. Calves Cruz and Linus literally ran circles around him as he oriented himself, trailed by Nigel and other sheep. Meanwhile, that energy of excitement was still in the air. Three thousand pound Thunder galloped gleefully across the pasture, his footfalls thudding on the frozen ground. Then came numerous games of head butting, at least some of which were intended by elder Norman to teach the young newcomer his place in the herd.

The light dimmed as the sun set. I reluctantly turned away from the unfolding drama to close the coops for the night and take care of other sundown chores.

As I closed the doors to the tunnels that cleverly connect the coops to the barn, the sheep ran in, their bodies still suffused with the excitement of meeting a new friend. One after the other, they leaped, turning half-circles in the air, before running back out into the twilight.

Earlier in the day, I had worried about how the new cow would handle the emotions of coming here alone, not knowing that his brother (and maybe the rest of his family too) would follow. Kathy said she had been worried about that too, “but then I remembered Buddy.”

Buddy is well-named. Having endured unspeakable loneliness alone in a barn for years, he values relationships above all else. Whenever a newcomer is alone and scared, Buddy will go to them. Whenever anybody is sad or  “on the outs” with others, Buddy will give them love and care. When young lamb Nigel appeared out of nowhere, pushed over or through the gate by an unknown person who was either rescuing or getting rid of him, Buddy became his constant companion. When cow Clover had a hard time making friends (because of her own bullying behavior, which has since abated), Buddy would groom and spend time with her. When Thunder’s brother Maxwell went up to the back pasture for a few days, because he wanted to socialize with the cows there, Buddy took up the slack, hanging out with Thunder until his brother came back.

As I left the barn last night, I saw the new cow standing off by himself. And I saw Buddy walking toward him.


Buddy and Clover

Buddy and Clover

Buddy and Nigel

Buddy and Nigel

15 comments to A Buddy in Need is a Buddy Indeed

  • pattrice
    This morning, on the way down the driveway to do the morning chores “down the hill,” I looked in the barn and saw that Buddy had successfully worked his magic. The new cow was lying down right in the middle of the herd, with Norman on one side of him and Cruz on the other. Coming back up the hill later, I saw him hanging out with the crowd at the hay rings. I’m sure that he does miss (and will be so surprised and happy to see) his brother and other companions, but at least he is already integrated with the herd here. Knowing Buddy, I’m sure he’ll continue to get special care for some time.
  • Beth
    Thank you so much for sharing this story of compassion.
  • That’s wonderful! I’ve always loved bovine introductions for their gentleness, joy, and relative ease. Not always, but mostly. Looking forward to photos of the newcomer(s)!
  • This is a beautiful story, and you’re right, I wish I had been there. I love Buddy, he is such a welcomer, and just the way you describe him, I can picture him with Nigel as this story unfolds. Sending my love to everyone up and down the Hill in VT.
  • Virginia Holmes
  • Dianne McKnight
    So happy for all the animals who cross paths with you!
    Beautiful Pattrice. Man, never have a dry eye when I read VINE’s posts. Thank you for all that you do. You are all an incredible inspiration.
  • CQ
    Your telling of this welcome-home tale right after the introductions took place, pattrice, made me feel I was on the scene with you — smiling away! :-)

    How sweet that aptly-named Buddy fulfilled his purpose in life, and that the nameless newbie (I can’t wait to hear his moniker!) will be in for another happy surprise when he is rejoined by his old pasture mates. This stuff is truly vegan soup for the bovine-loving soul.

  • Donna Reynolds
    Oh, Sniff ! That last sentence got me – icing on the cake of this loving and lovely story.
  • Barbara Beierl
    I plan to share this story with my students in “Animals in Literature” when we discuss a short story about a cow named Henderson. Barbara
  • what a beautiful tale of rescue and friendship…
  • jennifer
    that’s my buddy, i’m so happy to be sponsoring him!!
  • pattrice
    @Barbara, please do tell us how that goes.

    Everybody: Thanks for all of these warm responses! It warmed my heart to share those moments with you and also to give Buddy some credit for his generosity. I’m always telling him that he is such an important member of our community, and it’s really true.

  • I’m late… But not a bit less enthusiastic about these cows ‘comin’ home! I’m ecstatically happy for your growing family at VINE. So wonderful that life is given a chance to thrive! Thank you!
  • Adrienne Waeschle
    As a resident of NJ near where “The Jersey 5” were located, I just wanted to extend a huge THANK YOU to your group for taking them in! I was thrilled to see a story today in our local newspaper that they have found a permanent home. Thank you for all of the work you do!

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