Written by Allan Perrins, spokesperson of the Animal Welfare Society of SA
Ferdie was a religious sacrifice rescue. A rite played out annually around the world. He escaped being slaughtered and, in the process, wrecked a substantial part of the Cape Town suburb of Athlone.
No one ever came forward to claim him. No surprise, really, as I think they figured out that the value of the damage made the loss of his purchase price pale into insignificance. He really did cause quite a scene before being subdued enough to be loaded into a waiting trailer.
He’s such a handsome, gentle soul – and probably the most photographed and spoken about bovine in the Boland. Everyone knows him; even the cattle rustlers, who stay well away. His reputation precedes him.
Despite being an ox (i.e. castrated), he’s madly in love with his little harem of cows and goes ballistic when they ignore his mooing (as is a lady’s prerogative) and wander off to greener pastures, which always happen to be on the other side of the fence – much to my neighbours’ horror. I’ve had to take countless peace offerings to them on numerous occasions. Fortunately, I live on a wine farm – so that helps.
Cows are intelligent, gregarious animals and thrive in a herd. They crave companionship, so when I became aware of a solitary young calf looking for a home, I jumped at the opportunity.
This rather large bundle of joy arrived christened Daisy, which we all felt was a very apt name for her as she’s very partial to them and most other edible flowers. She was hand raised until old enough to graze unaided, which made her very trusting and accepting of people.
This was food for Ferdie’s soul, and he slowly but surely regained his trust in people. It wasn’t long before I had them both literally eating out of my hands, enjoying life to the fullest as all animals should and following me around like a shadow. I became their best friend and they mine.
Bibendum, or Bibs, as she’s affectionately known, resembled the Michelin Man when she first arrived at the farm. She was found lying in a heap, dying on a school field with a thick chain tied to a huge tractor tyre which had become embedded in her neck. She was initially given a hopeless prognosis, but I saw a look in her eye that screamed “help me”.
To our surprise, her little calf, Oreo, was born a few months later. Unlike her mom, she has no reason to be wary of people as she has only ever experienced kindness and love. She’s happiness personified.
The cows now live the life of Riley and want for nothing. I don’t know what visitors to the farm must think when they see me walking my cattle kids who follow me around like a bunch of delinquent youngsters – deliberately stopping to smell and eat the roses and anything else other than boring grass.
They also know exactly when harvest time is. They stuff themselves on sweet Pinotage and Cabernet grapes, which stain their huge lips and noses purple and pass delightfully luminous purple manure, making it a cinch for me to find them on the 185 hectares at their disposal.
They are my soulmates.
They cost a fortune to keep (so my wife, who also adores them, tells me), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. They have an air and a grace about them that’s priceless, and I’ve been told that many of the staff think that I’m very wealthy because I own so many cattle. How delightful is that – makes me utterly eligible if only it were true.