Her Babies Had Been Taken From Her Before – But What She Did This Time Will Melt Your Heart

Let’s be honest – cows have the reputation of being pretty darn stupid. In fact, even the word “cattle” brings to mind images of empty-headed heifers staring out blankly from fields of green. But just how dumb are these doe-eyed animals? Do they have emotions, or even remember things the way we do? Well, here’s a story that might just make your mind up for you.

Clarabelle is one hell of a lucky Jersey cow. Literally. Because in November 2014, the animal was mere hours from getting the chop when charity workers stepped in and saved her from becoming mincemeat. In fact, Clarabelle was living on a dairy farm in Australia where she had been relentlessly over bred, and she was producing little milk as a result. Consequently, Clarabelle was considered of no further use to the farm, and her life was forfeit.

This is by no means unique. Indeed, contrary to popular belief, cows actually only produce milk after pregnancy, which is why they are often forced into a constant cycle of birth. And that’s not all: the calves created as a by-product of this production line are cruelly torn away from their mothers. Further, the males are killed for beef and veal, while the females are forced into the same life of servitude as their mom.

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And when overbreeding inevitably results in lower milk production, “spent” cows like Clarabelle are considered expendable. That’s not the only thing animal rights activists object to about the dairy industry though. Certainly, campaigners have also declared the industry inhumane for over-milking cattle, branding the animals and chopping off – or “docking” – cattle tails.

Clarabelle, though, was saved from a fate on the plate by Edgar’s Mission, a not-for-profit farm sanctuary based in Victoria, Australia. The charity was founded in 2003 by Pam Ahern and named after the first pig that she ever rescued, the delightfully titled Edgar Alan Pig.

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Now Edgar’s Mission has 153 acres of land at its disposal, and it is home to more than 350 rescued animals. But not only does the mission offer shelter to rescued and abandoned strays with nowhere else to go, but it also educates others in animal welfare to prevent future abuse and mistreatment.

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

However, when Clarabelle lived on the dairy farm, she repeatedly had her babies ripped away from her shortly after they were born – a nightmare scenario for any mother. What’s more, this policy is typically carried out early on in an effort to stop a mother cow bonding with their calf, or vice versa.

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But it doesn’t matter at which stage mother and calf are separated; the process is still stressful for the animals involved. In fact, the trauma of losing her babies seemingly tayed with Clarabelle even after her rescue, and it became clear to her rescuers that the experience had emotionally scarred her. Surprisingly, though, when the cow was admitted to her new home, her rescuers found out that she was actually pregnant once more – and she must have been terrified.

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In February 2015, then, staff at Edgar’s mission noticed that the cow was acting stranger and stranger the closer she got to her due date. “Clarabelle’s behavior told us something was amiss,” Edgar’s Mission wrote on Vimeo. “Although her baby was not expected for another week, something was odd.”

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The charity continued, “A firm favourite to be first to feeding, on this occasion Clarabelle was not. Apprehensively, she walked up the paddock, every now and then casting a quick glance behind. A rather engorged sole teat was our first hint this eight-year-old Jersey cow had something to hide.”

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

Sure enough, the cow had given birth in secret. But the poor bovine had apparently come to associate humans and pregnancy with the pain of infant separation. And so, convinced that the people who had stolen her previous calves were going to come for her newborn, Clarabelle had tried to protect her baby the only way she knew how.

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

In a gut-wrenching act of maternal defiance, Clarabelle had actually hidden her newborn in the long grass of an isolated part of the farm. It was a heart-breaking reaction to her past trauma, but, perhaps, an amazing example of how intelligent and empathetic cows can be too.

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“We almost stood on a tiny bundle of brownness, ever so carefully hidden in the tall grass and camouflaged by fallen logs,” Edgar’s Mission wrote. “But this was no newborn calf; fully clean and dry was she, along with her umbilical cord – no afterbirth in sight.”

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

“We found [the calf] on Valentine’s Day but she was actually born a couple of days before,” Ahern revealed on the Edgar’s Mission video “Finding Valentine.” The baby cow was, of course, named after the day she was discovered on. But the name also commemorates the incredible love Clarabelle showed for her little calf.

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

Although Valentine was safe at Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary, Clarabelle’s separation anxiety was understandable. And her motherly nature proves that, although people think that cows are stupid, they are actually intelligent creatures with long memories. In fact, research has shown that these animals can even develop friendships and grudges within their own social circles.

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

“Renowned animal behaviourist and cattle expert, Dr. Temple Grandin, is credited with saying that the fear memories of cattle can never be deleted,” Edgar’s Mission wrote on Vimeo. “This fact was borne out by the kindly dairy farm worker [from where Clarabelle came].”

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

“[He] told us that the cows remembered which vehicle came and took their baby away shortly after birth. When farm vehicles would drive past they would behave no different… until the one vehicle that took their baby would return. At this point, the cow would become nervous, anxious and edgy.”

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

It’s not uncommon for heifers to develop very strong bonds with their babies, and they will often try to hide their newborns to protect them. For instance, there have been many accounts of cows looking for and calling out to the calves they have been separated from. Naturally, these newborns have often been sent to slaughter, with their fates unknown to their grieving mothers.

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Image: Vimeo/Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary

Clarabelle and baby Valentine, though, were some of the lucky ones who had managed to escape their fates in the dairy farm. And they are set to live out the rest of their lives roaming free on the Edgar’s Mission grounds, where not only can they enjoy the accompany of other cattle, but they can also enjoy their special familial bond as well.

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Image: Edgar’s Mission

Pictures of Clarabelle and (a much bigger) Valentine can be found on Edgar’s Mission’s Facebook page, where you can also learn more about the charity and the work they do.

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