We couldn’t have asked for a better time to welcome Forrest into the Farm Sanctuary family. Through a mixture of compassion, serendipity, and plain old good timing, the rescue of one orphaned, sick, and lonely calf ended up forever changing the life of another.

Forrest’s mother died giving birth to him on a beef farm. To make matters worse, Forrest was also born with severe leg injuries; the tiny calf’s foot bent unnaturally beneath him, making it so that he couldn’t stand or walk properly. Injuries like Forrest’s are usually a death sentence, since farmers won’t pay to treat animals they plan to slaughter anyway. But something tugged at the heartstrings of the farmer and a farmhand, who fed him regular bottles to help him put on some much-needed weight. When they were unable to nurse him back to full health, they reached out to us.

A few months before Forrest made the trip to Farm Sanctuary, we had rescued another orphaned calf named Pippi . Born with a terminal heart condition, Pippi needs a lot of individualized attention. While she loves her human caregivers, she was quite lonely until meeting Poppy —another calf with special needs. (Side note: Yes, we do realize that that the Pippi/Poppy name combination is a tad ridiculous; we promise we didn’t plan it that way!) These two loved to run and play together—an incredible feat for Pippi, who once had trouble walking without gasping for air, and for Poppy, who broke her leg and pelvis after falling from a transport truck late last year.

Poppy (left) and Pippi (right).

Due to the extent of her injuries from the fall, Poppy has had multiple extended stays with our vets at Cornell. Usually, when an animal requires hospitalization, we bring their best friends along for moral support. But due to Pippi’s heart condition, we worried that the stress of transport and extended time spent away from home might place too much strain on her. As much as it broke our hearts to separate them, we did what we thought best to support their unique healthcare needs.

Sadly, Pippi didn’t understand that the separation was temporary. She mooed and cried for her best friend, and had a hard time being on her own again. We arranged “play dates” with Alondra goat , who was staying in the pen next door, but it wasn’t the same; Pippi wanted to be around other cows.

Forrest arrived just in time—for both of them. The small calf took to “big sister” Pippi right away and found the security he craved after having lost his mother at such a young age. Pippi found a new playmate and friend to keep her company. She no longer cries at night, and loves taking charge of her new little herd. Together, they are helping each other heal.

As for Poppy—we originally hoped that she would rejoin Pippi and Forrest in their mini herd. These two are doing so well, however, that they grew a bit too rambunctious for Poppy’s tastes. Fortunately, she found a friend in Peggy —another cow with special needs. They now live next door to Pippi and Forrest, forming an extended family of bovine buds.

It is astounding to think that one calf with a “broken heart” and another with a damaged leg could come so far in such a short time, but this is what the power of friendship—and the power of sanctuary—can accomplish. Thanks to support from friends like you, we can continue to make a difference for farm animals like Forrest, Pippi, Poppy, Peggy and the rest of their friends at Farm Sanctuary.