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Ralphie and Andy

These two giant steer are former veal calves who were rescued and came to the farm several years ago along with Elvis, another veal calf. They’re all friends and stand around the hay eating together or hang out in the run-in sheds. They also lay in the grass and watch the mountain range that appears past their field. However, Ralphie and Andy have a special bond.

In 2009 Ralphie started stumbling, his back legs were giving out on him. Jenny decided to send him to Cornell to diagnose the problem. As soon as Ralphie was loaded on the truck, all of the steer—Andy, Elvis and Dylan—went to the corner of the field and started mooing. It was more like crying than just mooing and it definitely wasn’t a mad moo, like when Dylan wants hay. The crying continued on and off all day, every day.

The vets at Cornell did x-rays and exams, but couldn’t really figure out what was going on with Ralphie. He showed signs of improvement and was standing and walking, so they sent him back.

Jenny put Ralphie in a separate field to make sure none of the other steer would accidentally knock him over. Andy stood as close to Ralphie as the fences would allow and just stared at him. Ralphie laid down, chewing his cud, looking off to the mountain and Andy just watched him.

When Ralphie was finally let back into the field with the other steer, Andy went right to him and started licking him all over. And so it was, off and on for many days: Ralphie standing stockstill as Andy licked his coat.

Even now, more than a year later, you can see a giant spot on Ralphie’s neck where his coat looks different—reach over and touch it and it’s wet from Andy licking him, he’s been telling his friend again how happy he is—still–that he’s back.

See this painting by artist Ester Curini inspired by Ralphie: