Every now and again, you run across a story about pigs, ponies, and other farm animals who have made a break for it during round ups for slaughter. Bonnie the cow managed that same escape, but then opted for what we’ll call the “scenic route.”
She was just four months old at the time and residents in the surrounding area searched high and low for weeks, fearing she wouldn’t survive once the ground was covered with thick blankets of snow.
But that forest is also home to deer, and somehow she managed to form an unlikely alliance with one herd. They not only welcomed her, but provided all the warmth and companionship a little calf could need.
But the people who were out looking for her didn’t know any of this until a couple months after she disappeared, when hunters spotted her on their wildlife cameras.
The arrangement with the deer was working now but would not be beneficial forever. So one of the town’s residents, Becky Bartels, took pity on the poor little orphan and made it her mission to bring her to safety.
All the neighbors were kind of talking about how she was in the woods and winter was coming … They started talking about how sad it was, like she’s all alone and she’s going to have to fend for herself, she’s probably going to starve for the winter. And so people were saying, “Someone should feed her,” and Becky became that someone.
So Becky spent the entire winter working her charm and bringing her gifts of food and bedding, until the little calf started approaching her willingly. (She also named her, taking the name from the infamous outlaw Bonnie Parker, of Bonnie & Clyde fame.)
This went on for about six months. But going out every day to hand feed a cow who’s taken up with a herd of wild deer couldn’t go on forever. So earlier this month, Becky got in touch with the folks over at the Farm Sanctuary, and a rescue crew spent more than a week trying to capture the wayward calf.
They loaded up two trailers full of supplies and transportable gates, which they used to create a temporary pen around the area where she was already coming to eat.
It was a long and arduous process, but the rescue crew led her onto the trailer and from there, to her new home at a sanctuary in Watkins Glen.
She’s in isolation for now, but once she settles down and gets her bearings, she’ll be introduced to the main herd. It won’t be long before she’s entertaining everybody around the food bins, and telling the calves bedtime stories about her life with the deer that year in the woods.
“I can’t even tell you how many tears were shed when she was finally on the trailer,” one of the crew members said. “We were so, so, so relieved that we got her.