From The Gentle Barn
Our beloved cow Vegan left us this week at the age of 10. Because he was genetically engineered to get very big, very fast so he could be slaughtered at only 18 months, still a baby, he grew to over 2,000 pounds. Over the last few years it has been getting harder and harder for Vegan to stand up and walk because of his heavy weight and arthritis. This Sunday Vegan went down for the last time and he could not get up. Once a large animal cannot walk, their life is pretty miserable: they feel frustrated, angry, helpless and their organs start shutting down. This week, after giving Vegan cupcakes and water melon, his favorite treats, we gently helped him out of a body that no longer worked.
Vegan was born blind on a beef ranch. The farmer's wife felt sorry for him and brought him up to the house to bottle feed him. She very soon fell in love with him. The farmer didn't believe in cows as pets so he gave his wife one week to get rid of him or he was going to get rid of him. She called The Gentle Barn and asked if we would save him and of course we said yes. Vegan came to us at only 8 weeks old and we fell in love with him right way. He was so cute! Because he was blind we taught him to stop on command before he bumped into something. We bottle fed Vegan and when he was a year and a half we found a special surgeon in San Diego who did eye surgery on his congenital cataracts and helped him see. It was fascinating watching Vegan see for the first time, take in the world around him and learn what it was that he was looking at.
Vegan was a bit spoiled and actually didn't like being pet by people he didn't know. Vegan had a naughty sense of humor and when he was younger, thought it was funny to toss people in the air. I swear you could see him laughing. As he aged he mellowed and was content to have us give him back scratches and soft pets under the chin. Vegan never did open up to the public and large crowds, but he did bond with several of our volunteers and let them into his inner circle. Vegan was very opinionated and never minced words. He was very clear about what he liked and didn't like and was not afraid to express himself. We loved that about him and he inspired the confidence of the at risk youth that we worked with. Vegan was a fan favorite of the kids we hosted, teaching them that when bad things happen there can be a power and a saving grace that comes out of it. We would never have wished for Vegan to be blind, but in the end it saved his life. If he was born "normal" he would have been slaughtered a long time ago. Luckily he wasn't slaughtered and he blessed us with 10 years of magnificence!