Calf re-introduced to mom who survived Colo. fire

1/25/2013 11:30 PM
By Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A 3-month-old brown and white bull pranced around a pen at the Wolfe Ranch recently in western Colorado Springs.

The animal paused, let out a loud "moo," looked toward the barn and bellowed again.

John Hendrix, a volunteer hand at the Flying W ranch, emerged from the building with a large bottle. Waldo, as the young bull has been fondly named, didn't hesitate. He ran to Hendrix and slurped up the formula before chasing the man to the barn in hopes of more.

"He eats like a cow," Hendrix chuckled, noting that Waldo was spending his first full day on the property owned by the Flying W after arriving Jan. 15.

The bull was born Oct. 6 to a Flying W cow that survived the Waldo Canyon fire. Waldo's mother doesn't have an official name, Hendrix said, but his son's Josh, 11, and Sam, 9, dubbed her "Baby."

Baby and her calf were getting some alone time in the corral that sits less than 300 yards from the spot where Hendrix and other Flying W ranch hands found the mother and about 45 other head of cattle on June 28 — two days after the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed the Flying W Ranch and at least 346 nearby homes.

Hendrix said the ground around the cattle was blackened from the blaze.

"The hay they were standing on was still smoldering," he said.

Other cattle had some minor burns, but Baby suffered the most extensive injuries. She had long cuts on her neck from barbed wire and burns covered her right and left sides. The fire scorched the cow's udders, and she could hardly stand for several weeks.

While the other cattle spent time at the Penrose Events center after they were discovered and evacuated, Baby soon was moved to a ranch in Monument.

"She couldn't keep up with the others," Hendrix said.

But while she was at Penrose, a veterinarian announced that Baby was seven months pregnant. The revelation shocked everyone from the Flying W — after all, Hendrix said, cows usually give birth in the spring.

He and his family went to Monument daily to poke her with a stick and lead her to a pond to get a drink, "because all she wanted to do was lay down." Hendrix rubbed udder balm on her burns and gave her antibiotics.

Baby eventually walked and was moved to a ranch in Black Forest, where she gave birth to Waldo during the first snow of the season.

"When he was born, he had little icicles on his legs," Josh Hendrix said.

Baby couldn't nurse Waldo so he has been bottle-fed.

Baby spent Wednesday trying to inch closer to her calf, but Waldo shied away.

"Normally calves run to mom and away from people, but he's a little scared of her," Hendrix said.

Waldo has spent most of the first three months of his life playing with the Hendrix family dog Bronco, a German Shepherd and Great Dane mix.

Hendrix said Baby and Waldo will likely warm to one another. The calf's move back to the pen with its mother was mainly to get the bull used to being around other cattle.

"He thinks he's a dog," Hendrix said.

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