No Bull! Miracles and Pets Come in All Sizes
July 4, 1996, Ed discovered a newborn male calf by itself, in the field. He surmised it was one of a set of twins and its mother had wandered off without it. So, Ed carried it over to the herd, but none of the cows claimed the calf.
To save the frail calf's life they had to bottle feed it four times a day. Ed's wife Angela and their son (who
also shares a July 4th birthday) took over the task and named the farm's newest arrival, Andy.
On several occasions, over the next year, Andy nearly died. The vet was not sure if he would survive. So, Angela went to the library and read up on everything possible that might save him. She kept him in a little pen, so, he was "snug as a bug when it rained."
Angela reminisces, "I fell in love with Andy, just like someone would a helpless puppy. Andy relied on
me, and when you raise a pet from birth, the connection goes deep.
Most people do not have a beautiful jet-black Angus steer as their pet, but all-of-a-sudden, we did!"
During his first year of life, Andy and Angela bonded while she groomed him. During cold evenings, she carried a kerosene lamp out to the barn checking to see if he was dry and warm, and that his straw bed was clean, before tucking him in for the night.
Over the years of
cattle ranching, Andy is the only livestock that Ed and Angela have had that comes when called! The rest of their herd ignores them and continues grazing. When Angela calls Andy, he approaches her with his huge head lowered to be petted, and his neck scratched rather than go to his food.
On a cattle farm, cows are business, and go to slaughter. But Ed and Angela had an agreement. Angela explains, "I loved Andy, so Ed said we could always keep him. Occasionally, Ed would tease
me and jokingly say, "You never know when Andy will go to market with the cows."
Well, unbelievably...Ed did just that! One day, he loaded Andy up into the truck of cows going to auction.
It was not until the next day, that Angela discovered Andy missing. "I was devastated, and felt my best friend had died," she said, "Not only was my pet gone, but our marriage went sour with the betrayal."
Sending Andy to the slaughterhouse, put Ed in the
doghouse! Angela said, "I could forgive, but not forget! I went to our Pastor Steve and asked if I could give a donation in memory of Andy and plant a tree at the front door of the church with a plaque or put a hard-cold-metal plaque on the pew, right where Ed sat so piously in church every Sunday, that read, "Donated in Loving Memory of Andy.""
At the end of a week of grief and constant tears, she went to Pastor Steve with $589.10 in hand. It was the money that Ed had
collected based on Andy's 1300 pounds of weight when he sold him at auction.
Angela recounts, "Here is the money from the sale of Andy, I don't want it, and my husband is certainly not getting it!"
Pastor Steve was at odds on how to patch up their marriage, but he suggested something, never thinking that she would jump at it! "Now, I am not a cattle expert," he said, "but I do know that when cattle are shipped, they lose weight. Possibly, Andy will be fed
for a few days in a feed lot, to rebuild his weight. If you can find who bought him, and if he is still alive, maybe you can buy him back."
After, a lot of trial and tribulations Angela located Andy at a feed lot in Eagle, Idaho, 470 miles from their home. She phoned the slaughterhouse and told them they were coming for Andy. Apparently, he was in a huge field of pens, where cattle eat, stand and sleep until their number is up. Andy was mixed in with 25,000 others destined for
slaughter. He was three days from ending up in a meat market! Andy was so healthy that the manager knew he would make prime money, even though Andy had lost 100 pounds during travel from stress and separation anxiety.
Ed knew the way to regain peace at home, was to join in on the hunt. He hooked up the cattle trailer to their truck. Then, they drove east for 12 hours from western Washington State into Idaho and arrived in time to save Andy.
Angela always cut
up apples for Andy, because in his enthusiasm to eat them, he once chocked on a full apple. So, when they arrived, in anticipation...she had a cut up apple in hand.
"I walked over to the huge holding pen and called his name." said Angela, "Anndyyyy."
And over the noise of 25,000 herd of cattle, Andy called back to her in his unmistakable moo. Then she saw him! He came trotting directly over to her. Angela was elated.
Andy nibbled at the
apple but did not eat it. He lowered his head and gently nuzzled into Angela's stomach. What happened next, was it even possible?
"I lovingly stroked his head...and tears fell from his huge black eyes." exclaimed Angela, "Andy was crying! I cried. Even the secretary of the slaughterhouse cried. We hugged through our tears, and she said, "I am finally glad to see a happy ending, with all the misery here.""
Angela happily wrote a $750 check for Andy; his value
had gone up in a few short days! But to Angela, he was priceless. They loaded him into their cattle trailer for the return trip home. The round trip took 24 hours, and they covered 940 miles!
Andy kept crying out to Angela, so she told Ed to stop the truck and she climbed in the cattle trailer. Angela recalls, "Just like a mother knows what her child is saying. I knew how upset he was. Feeding him apples, and petting him, eventually comforted him. He was obviously traumatized
from his experience. I emerged from the bumpy trailer bruised, but happy."
Another odd thing was about to take place, like a children's Christmas Eve story. Their herd sensed Andy was coming home. Usually at night, the 45 cows are spread out over their 80 acres, but not tonight.
Ed explains, "We arrived home, at 1:00 a.m. and totally, uncharacteristically, all of our cows were gathered down by the gate to welcome Andy home. Then, they moved aside when he
walked into the pasture."
Angela completes this happy ending animal tale, "Life is good at the farm, it is eight years later, and Ed is still in charge of feeding Andy. We had Andy castrated and the way I felt about the entire adventure, I told my husband he was lucky we were not doing two for one!
Our marriage? Well, Ed gets his meals on time and laundry done, and he won’t admit it, but he too loves Andy. I wasn't about to let my husband forget what he had
done, so any time someone wants to hear Andy's story, Ed's penance is...he has to tell it.
I also told Pastor Steve that when the day comes, and Andy passes (which he did in 2021), that Andy will be quietly buried in the pasture, with Pastor Steve saying a few words over him. And after that...only dogs and cats as pets for us!"