Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org

[Ed. Note: Also read Bumper Saved by 4H Participant]

By Amanda Radtke June 2013

Bumper is a steer who was surrendered as a calf to Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary after his 12-year-old person (Maya) realized the values the 4H program was teaching were to harden one’s heart to the plight of animals around the globe. Oftentimes, this is in the name of money, tradition, convenience, etc.

Here is my account of the day I met him. It was a hot summer day. I had just pulled into the Sanctuary where Chris (Chris Alley-Grubb runs Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary along with his wife, Michele)  greeted me with a grin on his face. He took my hand and said, “Follow me, I have a surprise for you.” A surprise at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary will either make you drop to your knees to dole out a hug, or cover your mouth in words-can’t-describe surprise.   Rounding a corner, I saw a red calf, just slightly bigger than the surrounding bales of straw, with huge brown eyes and a beautiful pink nose. This, I was informed, was Bumper - named by Maya who said he used to bump his bottle when hungry. I sat on a bale of straw and he walked right over, letting me put his head in my hands so I could kiss his nose. What a huge head!! What an unforgettable moment!!   At first, he did not know he was a baby steer, as he had been bottle-fed by humans for several weeks. He had to be put on a lead and walked out to pasture where Sherman and Justice, the full-grown resident steers at the time, were basking in the sun. Sherman was jealous and wanted nothing to do with the baby, but Justice, much like he had done dozens of times before and countless times after, saw the baby and decided to make him feel safe and welcome. It did not take long for Bumper to realize he, too, was a steer, albeit a very tiny one compared to his new brothers.     Before long, Bumper was frolicking in the fields with the other animals, following the goats as soon as he figured out their cue food was nearby. Nothing was off limits. Well, as far as HE was concerned, nothing was off limits. He “helped” muck barns and guided cars onto the property while inspecting their contents; you never do know when someone will try to sneak a cooler full of produce in under his radar! Needless to say, there were a few barns that did not quite get mucked. How can you finish your job when a brown eyed baby steer is demanding your attention?   Bumper grew up, as babies tend to do. He became, if not one of the naughtiest residents of PPS, certainly one of the most talked about! He would oftentimes interrupt tours by either trying to climb the person giving said tour (this became a real problem when he was no longer three feet high!) and loved chasing people around to listen to their squeals of terror. In his defense, what you and I perceive as a squeal of terror is one of glee and delight to a steer’s ears! Although watching a thousand pound animal run and kick up their back legs as if they are light as a feather is an awesome sight, it can be a bit intimidating! 

As a result of his antics, Baby Steer Timeout became not only an event, but also a place. After demonstrating his inability to keep calm with strangers around, he would be placed in the gated pond yard to observe from a distance. The look on his face was priceless!  He knew as soon as his 4H story was up for discussion, he would receive appreciative glances as well as an apple or two.   One of Bumper’s favorite things was to have his back scratched. When tours were in progress, it was best to leave him in Baby Steer Timeout and get a rake. Yes, he LOVED the red plastic lawn rakes. They cover much more surface area than the human hand, so therefore, make scratching sessions more productive.   Bumper’s antics have included getting his head stuck in a bucket, requiring a quick bucketectomy performed by Michele - after having taken some pictures, of course; stolen produce; sprinting volunteers; slobber on car windows when the produce cooler is discovered; as well as trapped volunteers when he instigates his own game called “Stay right where you are, I am bigger!”   He is loved and cherished, something that would not have happened had Maya not realized WHO he was, not WHAT he was.  He is seven now, well past the age he would have been slaughtered, packaged and marketed any number of ways to please the human palate.    Bumper’s value in the supermarket - several hundred dollars...

Bumper’s intrinsic value - priceless...  

For more information about Bumper and hundreds of other rescued farmed animals, please visit Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.

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