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RalphieRalphie is a former veal calf, rescued together from a dairy farm with calves Andy and Elvis and brought to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in 2004—our very first cow residents! Ralphie, Andy, and Elvis are good friends and are often seen eating hay, hanging out in the barn, or laying out in the grass by one another. However, Ralphie and Andy have a special bond.

In 2009, Ralphie started stumbling. His back legs were giving out on him, so we 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 home.

Andy says hello to Ralphie over the fence.

When Ralphie was brought back from the vet, we put him 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 into the distance and Andy watched him. When Ralphie was finally let back into the field with the other steer, Andy went right up 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. For as long as Andy was with us, you could see a giant spot on Ralphie’s neck where his coat looked different—it was always wet from Andy licking him. That was Andy’s special way of telling Ralphie how happy he was to have him back.

Ralphie loves our weekend visitors and can often be seen waiting at the fence for treats!

See this painting by artist Ester Curini inspired by Ralphie:


August 2016: We had to say a tearful goodbye to Andy the steer. Andy’s 2,000-plus pounds became too much to bear because of progressing arthritis in his back legs. We all knew it was time to let him go. Since Andy was especially close to Ralphie, so we are giving Ralphie a lot of extra attention over the next few months as he mourns his lifelong friend.