These cows live on a beautiful farm near Peterborough, Ontario. The animals here live a good life, with lush, green meadows to graze in and forest nearby. They have two ponds to drink from and a lot of space to roam. Except during the harsh winter months, they roam free over these large pastures and enjoy a live that is as close to what nature intended as possible. The farmers treat the animals well and watch over them from their house on top of the hill. Flo is a loving mother cow who has just had a calf. Unfortunately, she chose a spot beside the fence, near the pond, and her baby slipped under the electric fence as it was born. This fence is designed to keep predators out of the field and to prevent the cows from wandering onto the road that runs along one side of this pasture. Flo’s young calf doesn’t have the strength, or the understanding to get back through the fence and she can’t get to him. It’s a warm spring day and the calf is lying in the sun in the long grass not far from the busy road. Flo was not expected to calf until the following day and the farmers have left briefly to run an errand. Flo was starting to become frantic about her calf. A passing motorist, Dave, who lives nearby, stopped to video tape other cows that were cooling off in the pond. Dave is a hobby videographer and wanted to get some footage for a video he was making. He set up a camera on the fence post and had another one in his hand. When he approached the fence, Flo began to moo loudly and pace back and forth. She pawed at the dirt and bellowed. It appeared to Dave that she was annoyed with a stranger near the fence. He turned his camera toward her but he moved farther away to give her some space. Flo paced back and forth, continuing her odd behavior for about five minutes. She was staring at Dave and then at the grass outside the fence. It slowly occurred to Dave that she was not angry, but possibly asking him to look outside the fence. He took his camera and walked over to the spot she was staring at. Dave was surprised to discover a newborn calf on the wrong side of the fence. It was motionless and didn’t even appear to be alive in those first few moments. Then it moved. Suddenly Dave realized that Flo had been asking him to help. She appeared to become calmer as he approached the calf, but Dave didn’t know what to expect from this protective mother if he moved too quickly. He spoke to her and looked around. He could see that the farmers’ truck was not at the house. The gate to the field was a long way off and the fence was too high to lift the calf over. But the electric wires could be lifted and the calf could be helped back under the fence. Dave got a stick from a tree and set to work. He crouched down and lifted the wires. The calf wasn’t able to stand. Its umbilical cord was still fresh and Dave knew the calf was only an hour or two old at the most. He pushed the calf and wiggled it until it was under the wires. Both he and the calf received a few shocks but there wasn’t a better way to get it back to the mother. Eventually, the little calf was reunited with his mom and both were visibly relieved. Dave had mounted his handheld camera on the tree behind him when he got the stick. He had no idea how Flo was going to react and he though he might as well record it. He had forgotten about the camera on the fence post by this point, but it recorded the whole thing as well. It wouldn’t be until later, when he watched the footage, that he fully understood Flo’s reaction. At one point she seems to bow down. After Dave walked away, she stared at him curiously. As Flo and her baby walked away to join the herd, the farmers drove past and stopped. They heard about what happened and said that Flo was still pregnant when they left two hours earlier. They said they needed to treat the umbilical cord with iodine, check the calf, and tag it. They invited Dave to help, and to bring his camera along if he wanted more footage. Dave wandered among the cows and recorded. In a touching moment, the little calf, now known as “Sparky” because of the electric fence, approached Dave curiously, followed by Flo. They seemed to recognize him from a few hours earlier. They gave him a long look and a sniff before walking away. This exchange between Flo and Dave clearly demonstrates that Flo was capable of understanding that a stranger could help her. She knew what she needed and made a clear attempt to communicate. She also demonstrated a touching love for her newborn baby. If animals are capable of such emotional capacity, surely they deserve only the best treatment possible from all of us.
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