A helping hand makes all the difference.
That much was certainly true for Valentine, a tiny calf rescued from a dairy farm in New South Wales, Australia when he was just three days old.
As a male calf on a dairy farm, Valentine was considered a burden to the farmer. After Valentine was born, the farmer removed him from his mother so that he wouldn't waste his mother's milk and that milk could instead be harvested and processed for human consumption.
After witnessing Valentine's birth and knowing the fate that likely awaited him (the slaughterhouse), a kindly neighbor reached out to Deborah Pearce, founder of Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary, to see if Pearce would be willing to rescue the newborn calf.
Pearce agreed, and immediately traveled to the dairy farm. When she arrived, the calf was nowhere to be found. The farmer said he'd wandered off and hadn't seen him since.
After searching the grounds, Pearce found the three-day-old calf huddled amongst a group of female cows.
Sickly and weak, the calf was desperately in need of nourishment. Pearce wrapped him in burlap and transported him back to the sanctuary.
"We spent lots of time with him...The first few nights I spent with him in his shelter as he was very sick. We thought he might die," says Pearce.
But he pulled through. With regular bottle feeding and lots of TLC, little Valentine grew stronger and healthier by the day.
The arrival of two orphan lambs, Coco and Sprout, helped speed Valentine's recovery.
"They were bottle-fed all together and bonded strongly. They comforted each other. They remained best friends," says Pearce.
Now a healthy happy two-year-old, Valentine spends his days stealing the horses' hay, enjoying apple treats, and palling around with his favorite sheep.
Valentine is a cow, but he never got the memo. According to Pearce;
"Valentine doesn't like to stay with the other rescue cows for too long...He stands at the gate and makes such a noise to be let back in the paddock where his lamb friends are. Valentine doesn't seem to think he's a cow. Not sure what he thinks, but he knows he is special."
You can learn more about Where Pigs Fly, and contribute to the sanctuary's life-saving work here.
All photos courtesy of Veronica Rios/Where Pigs Fly via The Dodo.
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