On October 12, 2019, we left Farm Sanctuary before sunrise with a team of six, driving more than four hours towards a property in Hobart, NY, where we were scheduled to pick up two cows and a steer. Little did we know, this rescue would end up taking more than 32 hours.
It’s rare that we get the chance to rescue farm animal families intact—but in the case of the “Hobart Trio,” one farmer’s change of heart will allow this family to stay together for life.
Honey, Camina, and Lux are Brown Swiss/Jersey crosses who once lived on a family farm in Hobart, New York. While these breeds are typically used for dairy, some people raise them for meat as well. Honey and Camina—grandmother and granddaughter—had likely lost their babies to slaughter; and if all had gone to plan, Lux—the sole steer of the trio—would have faced the chopping block as well. Luckily, the farmer decided to phase out of production, and to keep these three on as companions. Over time, though, their needs exceeded what she could provide. Wanting to do right by her herd, she asked if we could take them on.
On the scheduled pickup day, our team of six—led by Farm Sanctuary Director of Facilities Mario Ramirez—arrived bright and early to explore the property and set up temporary fencing to help us corral and load the animals to our trailer. We had hoped to return home later that evening, but as it turned out, our mission would be more difficult than we had expected.
All three bovines were very skittish, and ran as far from us as possible. Our team responded by carefully studying their patterns—how each bovine moved, and the paths they liked to take—and then set up additional fencing to help guide them along.
After a few hours, we secured Camina onto our trailer; Honey followed a few hours later. Lux, however, continued to evade us—and by nightfall, he was still on the loose. Eventually, it became too dark to see and maneuver the property safely—both for Lux and for us. So, we decided to spend the night and try again the next morning; leaving without him was not an option. We planned to keep one staff member onsite to monitor the cows already in the trailer; but there was one thing we hadn’t accounted for: there were no hotel rooms available for the rest of the rescue crew in the area! In a move that confirms just how selfless and dedicated our team is, the whole crew spent the night in our trucks.
Come daybreak, with stiff joints and creaky backs, we once again restructured our corral, and patiently waited for Lux to come through. After a couple more suspense-filled hours, he finally began his long, slow walk up the ramp into the trailer. Witnessing this process was a Herculean exercise in stillness and patience: one slight movement might spook him and undo all of the hours of time spent getting to this point. As Lux took one lumbering step after the other up the ramp, we all held our collective breaths. Finally, he took the final step. He was in the trailer. Without hesitation, we quickly locked the trailer door and cheered for a job well done.
But our work wasn’t over yet. We still had to clean up our fencing and corrals, and make the return trip home to Farm Sanctuary. By the time we offloaded our three new friends, we had been on the job for more than 32 hours.
In the days following, we ran routine diagnostics, trimmed their hooves, and created specialized plans based on their unique healthcare needs. Lux, for one, had a damaged hoof that required extensive treatment. He wasn’t so keen on the idea of treatment, though; having been wary of our intentions since the beginning, he wasn’t so convinced that hoof trimming was in his best interests.
With a dash more patience (and a little bit of grain), the trio slowly started to come around. (Note: Most of our ruminants are on hay-based diets; some, however, receive grain with medication or as a meal supplement if they are very young, old, thin, sick, or have other healthcare requirements). Having family around has helped them adjust, and they are gradually learning that we are here to help.
Once all test results come back clear, these three joined our special needs herd—at 21 years of age, matriarch Honey deserves a grand retirement with her family by her side! And, as cows are herd animals, we hope that joining a larger group will continue to help them feel more at ease. So far, they remain as tight as ever … but there are starting to make new friends here and there. Gentle giant Sam, for example, is quite the fan of this family, and follows this trio wherever they go.
Please help us welcome these beautiful bovines, who will never again know the pain and fear of loss and will get to have their loved ones by their side forever!