The miracle of Wilbur

19 November 2018 | Columns

Yanna Smith

There was no way I knew how much 10 January 2017 would change my life. That was the day I rescued a calf, born four days earlier, from the roadside while his mother had collapsed a few steps away from him, already being eaten by maggots while the life drained out of her. We took both of them home and the cow, whose name was Jewel, died on our plot, under a tree, with water and food in her tummy. The calf was promptly named Wilbur by my son who had just watched Charlotte's Web. I swore that day that the violence into which Wilbur was born, would be wiped away by the miracle of love.

That was not to be.

Wilbur died a mere eight months after his rescue, while I was helplessly holding his head in my hands. My calf had ingested a poisonous plant, for days on end, and the vet, with all her treatments and stomach pumps, could not save him.

My heartbreak was immense. I did not want to believe that an innocent, born from such violence against his species, would not live to be a ripe old age, showered by my hugs and kisses, and of course, his favourite treat, green beans.

In the time I had Wilbur to care for, I discovered an intelligent, quirky, gentle and playful being, who would run with the dogs and wait just until the right moment when I had my back turned to him and was bending down to pick up a Prosopis pod to spoil him with, and then he would head butt me.

After his death, I turned my attention to a brown Bonsmara calf named Henry, son of Dolly. And of course, our white Brahman heifer Tinkerbell. Along with a friend, we purchased Henry from his owner but Henry was no Wilbur. He was fearful of people, no doubt caused by his mother's distrust of us, along with that of her cohort Tinkerbell.

They had been purchased bone thin… to be fattened for slaughter.

I persevered. It took me three months before I could lay my lips on Henry's and although Dolly would only allow a quick rub when spoilt with pods, Tinkerbell learned to hug. And did she learn to hug.

In the eight months of Wilbur's short but beautiful life and then, in the few months we were still on the plot following his death… I got to know cattle.

When Wilbur arrived, as a newborn, Dolly had a two-month-old calf. She refused to leave the fencing of Wilbur's enclosure and became quite irate when we went near him – until she saw we did him no harm. On the night my Wilbur died, all three of them came up to his fence and called and called.

I have seen how love can transform cattle. And I know what it feels like when a heifer or a young ox, or a cow, loves you.

I have seen their chins, which by the way look exactly like butt cheeks, and the way they move when they eat. I have been nuzzled, shoved, kissed and ran too by animals with the strength to kill you, but do not. I have seen how, after a month's absence, they are happy to see you… really happy.

I have known love in its most holy and blessed form because I have been loved by cattle.

For someone who worked with lions for more than a decade, this was new to me. And while so many regard cattle as livestock but their pet dogs as precious, or those who say they will hunt a kudu but not a leopard, I have known there is no difference.

Each animal has its own rights and they are the same. The right to live, in peace, and not be harmed.

I can no longer stomach the taste of beef. And I smile when I see cattle anywhere at all.

They are blessed. And holy. And sentient. And capable of love. And loyalty.

That is the miracle of my Wilbur. That was why he came.

Similar News


As die meerminne verdwyn

1 month - 17 December 2018 | Columns

Yolanda Nel - “Hardloop die see in met jou jeans aan, kyk uit vir 'n meermin en deel in gesprekke oor al die mooi plekke...

Alles met 'n knippie sout

1 month - 10 December 2018 | Columns

Yolanda Nel - Almal weet gewoonlik baie meer as jy. Hoe weet ek dit? Want hulle vertel my elke kans wat hulle kan, dat dit...

Met 'n tikkie sout

1 month - 08 December 2018 | Columns

Almal weet gewoonlik baie meer as jy. Hoe weet ek dit? Want hulle vertel my elke kans wat hulle kan, dat dit waarmee ek besig...

Ek groet jou Lindie

2 months ago - 12 November 2018 | Columns

Yolanda Nel - Wanneer jy iemand groet, dink jy mos nie dis die laaste keer wat jy daardie persoon gaan sien nie. Ek groet jou...

The world of weird news

2 months ago - 05 November 2018 | Columns

In the newsroom we're confronted by a variety of stories every day. Some heart-wrenching, some uplifting, and some downright weird.Earlier this year I wrote a...

Bou 'n brug

2 months ago - 29 October 2018 | Columns

Yolanda Nel - Toe ons jonger was en 'n probleem ondervind het, het almal baie sarkasties toegesnou, “bou 'n brug en kom daaroor”.In die werkplek...

Bou 'n brug

2 months ago - 26 October 2018 | Columns

Toe ons jonger was en 'n probleem ondervind het, het almal baie sarkasties toegesnou, “bou 'n brug en kom daaroor”.In die werkplek moet ons gereeld...

Wie's jou sidekick?

3 months ago - 15 October 2018 | Columns

Yolanda Nel - Ek kan onthou toe ek 12 jaar oud was, het ek 'n toespraak by die Sinode gelewer. Ek moes praat oor die...

The joy of growing old

3 months ago - 08 October 2018 | Columns

Julienne van RooyenAfter another year there’s an extra wrinkle staring back at me in the mirror and things are going downhill at a relatively fast...

In die arms van ’n ander man

3 months ago - 01 October 2018 | Columns

Yolanda Nel – My boetie en sy vrou het onlangs uit Thailand teruggekeer na ’n heerlike vakansie. Ek kon nie help om effe jaloers te...

Latest News

Watertoevoer bly 'n uitdaging

20 hours ago | Infrastructure

Op Groot Aub sê inwoners hulle gaan soms dae lank sonder water.Tydens 'n onlangse onderhoud met Nampa, het inwoners van die ne-dersetting wat sowat 45km...

Women at Work trains nannies

20 hours ago | Education

A number of women from Farm Skoonheid near Gobabis recently received training to become nannies to better their knowledge and skills to take care of...

Just enough better than more

20 hours ago | Banking

As the economy begins to improve, entrepreneurs will find greater confidence to establish SMEs, while existing SMEs will seek finance to grow, says Jerome Mutumba,...

Artist group struts their stuff

20 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

A group exhibition by the Ileni Pamwe Project of Visual Artists opened at the Omba Gallery in the capital last week.The exhibition showcases mixed media...

Shotgun at the Warehouse

20 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

Indie-folk singer and songwriter Shotgun Tori makes a Namibian comeback with her tour Where We Left It Off at the Warehouse Theatre.Blending folk, rockabilly, country...

Life in full colour

20 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

Running at the National Art Gallery in the capital until 16 February, is Of the Greatness of Life, a solo exhibition by Dr Helmut Lauschke.Consisting...

Events calendar

20 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

Currently running• Art Come Together, an exhibition of the results from art workshops in the Khomas, Kavango East, Oshana and Hardap regions at the National...

A new you in the...

20 hours ago | People

If you're looking for a rebrand in terms of your image, reputation, lifestyle or even habits but you're finding it hard to start, it might...

Support for soccer centre

20 hours ago | Society

The Namibia Football Association (NFA) Girls Centre last week received 18 single beds and bedding worth N$75 000 from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit...

Load More