It is Christmas time, I know, and many of your homes will be flowing with the sweets we all recognize as candy, but I’m going to tell you about a very young female that has come into my life and because of her sweet looks, big brown eyes, and gentle disposition, we have affectionately dubbed her with the name of Candy.
Candy came to us through a roundabout unusual way. My son, cursed with the same addiction that I have for the love of animals, dropped into a neighbouring farm just to offer a hand if help was needed. Help was needed.
A very young heifer, bred much too early by a neighbouring bull that had jumped the fence, had aborted and abandoned a calf that was a few weeks premature. The calf lay in the mud of a not-unusual hoof-trod barnyard, after a heavy rain, and appeared dead. Though strongly indicative that there was no possible hope, a slight movement told them that life was still there. Then three things quickly happened.
The calf ended up, covered in guck and muck as it was, first in my son’s arms, secondly on the floor in the backseat of the car, and thirdly in our house dog Foxy’s padded bed at the far end of the back entrance hall of our house. The dog didn’t seem to mind; she simply licked the calf’s ear and went to lie on her blanket in the corner of the living room.
Being premature, the calf was small for a limousin/angus X, but it immediately brought back memories of the tiny Jersey calves that my parents had delegated me to bottle feed in my early double digit preteen years. This highlighted the daily drudgery of morning and evening chores. Though time consuming and tricky at first, I looked forward to feeding the little gaffers.
Candy spent her first night in the dog’s bed covered with a blanket. In the morning she was able to raise her head off the floor and she uttered an almost silent moo, and moo again. It was an indication that told us she was hungry. A bottle with a nipple, filled with previously-purchased colostrum, was warmed in a pot filled with water on the stove and a two-hour feeding program began.
By noon of the second day, having been transferred to the quickly constructed pen in the barn, she stood up on her wobbly legs all by herself. From then on, she never looked back. She would call to us each time she heard the barn door open.
By the third day, she will be switched to milk replacer and her feedings cut down to three times a day. It is hoped that by the end of a week she will be fed only morning and night, with a 12-hour spread. And in time, she will be munching her own lunch from a manger built to her size and filled with the sweet scented,  second-cut alfalfa hay.
At the moment, Candy is doing fine. Her hair is glossy black, her eyes shine, her ears always point forward, as she shows an interest in everything that is going on around her. And deep down inside, I’ve got the feeling that a little black calf with a strong will to live will never, ever, be wearing an abattoir tag on her ear.
Take care, ‘cause we care.

Barrie Hopkins