|Charlotte, left, and Wilbur in their private pasture earlier this summer.|
|Charlotte, a few days old, was born in early April.|
|Wilbur has always been bigger than Charlotte, |
even though he was born a few weeks later
We soon realized that Charlotte and Wilbur were always on the outside of the herd, maybe a hundred feet away, maybe further, but always together. We would see them grazing on the hillside in the East Field while the other calves were bunched together near the road or lying near the herd but not a part of it.
Wilbur has a blind eye. We don't know what took place but this can happen with pasture-raised cattle. My husband put him in with a younger bull in another pasture a few weeks ago to separate him in case it is an infectious disease and to protect his eye.
Charlotte seemed mournful. Still not a part of the herd, she isolated herself and we didn't see her as much. This morning my husband went to the East Field and down to the creek to look for her, fearing the worst. He found her in the creek, on her side, panting and very frail. It was clear she had been kept by the other calves from the grain supplement or just choosing not to eat.
Yet we believe there must be something more. Can non-related livestock form a close bond with each other? [We have seen this in the deer we have raised and set free.] Was she too upset to eat because Wilbur had been taken away from her? Or were the other calves just shunning her and did this cause her failure to thrive?
Charlotte and Wilbur are together again. She has had some shots of penicillin, some grain, some fresh water, and is in the pasture with Wilbur and the small bull. We hope she will turn the corner, once again, for a full recovery as she did after she was born. She is only among a few farm animals that we have named. That, some argue, is not a good idea on a farm––and being on a farm also persistently tests my qualms about eating animals. But as she's bonded with Wilbur, we have bonded with them both. And I recall my favorite childhood book, Charlotte's Web, and wonder what E.B. White might have thought.
You come back when you're ready!