July 25, 2012
In Oregon, Two Pampered Pet Cattle Seek and Find New Home
The HSUS's Oregon state director helps find new digs for a mother-son pair of beloved pet bovines
By Julie Hauserman
On her nine-acre farm in Medford, Oregon, Betty Decker had a special pet: a Black Angus cow named Maggie who she kept in her backyard, away from the rest of the herd. When Decker got the little two-week-old calf as a Valentine’s Day gift more than two decades ago, Maggie was only the size of a dog.
"She played around the yard just like the rest of the dogs. I had a little doggie door on the house. One day the dog came through, the cat came through, and what do you know---Maggie came through! I took her back outside. I knew she was going to get big, and I couldn’t have her in the house!"
She did, indeed, get big—Maggie now weighs in at more than 1,500 pounds, and her son Bubba is even bigger, weighing more than a ton.
"They were my backyard pets. I babied them. I brushed them every day, and I fed them timothy grass and clover," says Decker.
Old friends part ways
Now 88, Decker came to realize she could no longer care for Maggie and Bubba. "I just love them and hated to let them go," she said. "Before I left this world, I wanted a good place for them where they could live the rest of their lives out together."
Decker reached out to Farm Sanctuary, which turned to Scott Beckstead, Oregon Senior State Director for The HSUS. He started looking for someone to take in the two mammoth bovines.
New friends and new pastures
The two elderly animals would obviously need some elbow room wherever they were going: Bubba stands six feet high at the shoulder.
Two animal lovers soon stepped up—Ingrid Gram and Sky Ironplow, who have 10 acres of pasture on their farm in Sutherlin, Oregon. Gram and Ironplow have fostered horses and taken in other animals in need.
On July 18, Beckstead collected Maggie and Bubba for the two-hour drive to their new home.
Gentle giants settle in
By the next day, Ironplow was already able to hand-feed Bubba some alfalfa.
"They are huge. Bubba’s about the size of my pickup truck," Ironplow reported. "They are amazingly gentle and they enjoy being petted. You can tell they’ve been handled all their lives. My cat walked up to Bubba, and they touched noses."
In Medford, Betty Decker said she is relieved, knowing her "babies" will be cared for.
"I am going to miss them terribly," she said, "but they said I can go see them."
"It was a real honor for us to be able to find Bubba and Maggie a suitable place to live out their lives," Beckstead said. "We are deeply grateful to Ingrid and Sky for opening their hearts to these two very sweet, gentle creatures."