Sir Baby & Tinkerbell

☆ April 23, 2015


Look at this bull! Sir Baby is now six years old and weighs over a ton. I’d guess he’s about 2200 pounds. His hooves are the size of salad plates. He stepped on my foot once, accidentally, and luckily the ground was soft and my foot sank into the earth and I was left with just a bruise. The hard part was getting him to move off my foot, because he was expecting a scratch between his shoulder blades.

Tinkerbell is a miracle baby – though she’s not a baby anymore, despite her tiny size. She’s nearly a year old and was born unexpectedly on the mountain last summer. Back in 2011, one beautiful young cow contracted a disease called lumpy jaw. A bacteria enters the jaw bone and causes the bone to grow, which severely deforms the jaw of the cow and makes it hard for her to chew. There’s no cure. The options are to sell the cow (which I was totally against, as she would be considered ‘garbage’ and treated even worse than other cows that enter The System), shoot the cow, or keep the cow and help her as much as possible (good grass, supplements in the winter, etc). We chose option 3. Though she became a very skinny cow, too thin to ever have calves, she was perky and an active part of the herd (sick and injured cows are “droopy” and will separate themselves from the rest of the herd).

Fast-forward to last October – this skinny, lumpy jaw cow came off the mountain with a baby! We couldn’t believe it – she didn’t even look pregnant when we trailed up, and we had missed all evidence of this event each time we went up to check on the cows (with 1000 acre leases, we never see every cow on these day trips). The baby was lively, frolicking and bucking, but miniscule, and already eating grass, as her mother wasn’t producing milk. I tried to get the calf to nurse on Daisy, but the calf had already been conditioned out of the instinct to nurse – she completely ignored Daisy’s udder and, instead, went for Daisy’s special high-protein pellets. So, we put the cow and her calf in the barn when we trailed the rest of the herd to fall pasture, and planned to spend the fall and winter giving them extra-special treatment and hopefully fattening both of them up.

November began with highs in the 60s, then, halfway through the month, the temperature suddenly plummeted to -21°F. It fell to -28°F the next night. And the next morning, we found mama had died in the night. She didn’t have enough body fat to keep her alive in that extreme cold, even in the barn with a sleeping bag tied on like a horse blanket and unlimited food. It was too cold, too fast. Her calf (who looks so much like she did, before the disease set in, with a long and delicate face) made it through the cold snap, as did the rest of the herd. I named the calf Tinkerbell, and I moved Sir Baby into the barn (he fights too much with the other bulls for his own good, which is why his left ear is deformed).

Tinkerbell and Sir Baby immediately became BFFs. They sleep side by side. Sir Baby grooms Tinkerbell throughout the day, licking her neck and back just like a mama cow would. He’s taught her not to fear people, and when I climb onto his back and brush his massive neck, she nibbles the toe of my boot. Tinkerbell gets a daily bucket of Daisy’s special pellets, and she’s actually grown quite a few inches in all directions. They are the biggest and the littlest members of the Farmily, an odd couple and unlikely friendship, a happy consequence of a sad story.


87 Responses to “Sir Baby & Tinkerbell”

  1. Jackie
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 9:33 am

    It’s funny, I originally started out being fascinated by Charlie but now (although that level of fascination has not diminished), I look forward to the bovine stories just as much! Don’t know why, perhaps because you see the personal side of these critters, just like you see the personal side of Charlie. Thank you!

  2. hello haha narf
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 9:37 am

    what a magnificent portrait of these two! just stunning.
    hearing all about tinkerbell made my morning. thanks!

  3. Janet Ruggiero
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 9:43 am

    What a great story, except for mama. Glad these two bonded.

  4. torre
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 9:45 am

    This post just made my day – what a sad but sweet story with a fabulous outcome. You and Mike are good people to chose option 3 – many wouldn’t. Sir Baby is one handsome bull – just mesmerizing. And Tinkerbell is so adorable :)

  5. Amy
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 10:12 am

    What a lovely photo and story! Sir Baby is an absolute mountain in the picture. Such a beautiful hunk of love.

  6. Ellen
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 10:23 am

    Oh Shreve, you are such a good person! This story brought tears to my eyes. It reminds me of the friendship between Ricardo and Cow 234. Thank you for this uplifting story, even though it did contain some sadness; glad that Tinkerbell looks so much like her Mom!

  7. Vee
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 10:33 am

    Shreve, I imagine you’re going to get quite a few emotional responses to this story. How lovely – the image alone speaks volumes. You do have a way of aptly naming members of your farmily. Sad that Tinkerbell’s mom had to pass, but such is with life. Sir Baby sounds like one of those bulls with a tough exterior and the softest hearts. :) BFFs rock!

  8. joy
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 10:38 am

    what a lovely and sad story, all entwined

  9. Faye
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 10:40 am

    Love this portrait! And thank you for their story.

  10. Lorrian
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 11:01 am

    That is the sweetest picture! Thank you for sharing the story…I was wondering why Sir Baby seemed to have a baby. ;-)

  11. Kristan
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 11:02 am

    Ditto what Jackie said! <3

  12. wright1
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 11:04 am

    Great story and photo, as others have said. That image captures both his size, character and relationship with Tinkerbell so well. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Dawn
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 11:08 am

    This is my favorite type of story from you, I love all the odd couples you have/have had in the Farmily!

  14. Keri
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 11:14 am

    I love this story, apart from mama not making it, of course. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Tervicz
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 11:45 am

    I hope you realise cattle can reach 20 and above. Which means these may be there for a looong long time…

  16. Amy
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 11:52 am

    Re: Tervicz’ comment: You’d better let Mike know!

  17. shreve
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 12:13 pm

    T & A ~ (hahahaha) yes, we know that! One of Mike’s oldest (#234, referenced above) lived to 21.

    ETA: here’s a post about Cow 234 (and Ricardo, with youngster pics of Frisco…)

  18. charity
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

    What a sweet and sad story. I’m glad they have each other!

  19. bonnie
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

    i don’t think many people would even allow such a massive bull to be in the same enclosure with a tiny calf. they are both so lucky to have you !

  20. Theresa Szpila
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 1:03 pm

    Sir Baby is massively breathtaking! And Tinkerbell is so breathtakingly tiny next to him.

    I’m so sorry her Momma didn’t make it, though I’m sure she went peacefully, knowing her baby would be so well cared for.

    Sending special blessings to all!!!!


  21. Janet M
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 2:17 pm

    What a gorgeous pair. It’s such a sweet story of their friendship.

  22. Lindsay
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 3:09 pm

    Wow Sir Baby is MAGNIFICENT!! Tink is a beauty too!!
    Gorgeous Shreve. :)

  23. TeriGrace
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

    Love a good animal story….. Bless you for having such a caring heart for your critters.

  24. YL
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 4:00 pm

    Great story. Glad there’s a happy outcome. (also, I just got the antique silver charm necklace today and it’s even more beautiful and delicate than the pictures. Thank you!! And it looks like there’s another in the shop so someone should totally buy it cause it’s worth it)

  25. Katie @ Stress and Stars
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 5:11 pm

    For all my avowed hatred of cows (the consequence of too many times being headbutted, stepped on, knocked over, or covered in cow snot, haha), I love these stories. I love them so much.

    It’s sad when the ones you’ve worked so hard to save can’t make it through one last hardship. I’m glad little Tinkerbell survived. And Sir Baby may just be taking up the mantle of my favorite Farmily member.

  26. Deborah
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

    Reading about Ricardo, the Beau of the Bovines, made me miss him all the more. The portrait of Sir Baby & Tinkerbell is superb. BFFs are the best!

  27. taffy
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 6:49 pm

    So much fun to reread your story of Ricardo and the special cows, and to see those photos again! And what a kick to see their names Baby and Tinkerbell here…someone who doesn’t know them might wonder if Baby is the baby looking one and so then is HE Tinkerbell? tee hee! But burly and strong as he is he has the sweetest face and kindest eyes and he is Baby for sure.

    *Is that a fold of neck skin below his chin, or is he giving us the raspberries! lol

  28. Beth K
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 11:19 pm

    Great shot, and great story.

  29. AmyFin617
    April 24th, 2015 @ 4:22 am

    I love this story- thank you for sharing and taking the time to tell us what you see. You have beautiful insight with the animals around you.

    Also – the photograph is perfect and amazing.

  30. Richard
    April 24th, 2015 @ 6:30 am

    Okay, I know nothing about farm animals and this picture proves it. I thought all bulls have horns. Sir Baby does not have them. Will someone more knowledgeable than me please help.

    I loved the story.

  31. scotty
    April 24th, 2015 @ 6:33 am

    i am always in awe of the sheer immensity of sir baby. knowing now he has a lil side kick is pretty cool.

  32. shreve
    April 24th, 2015 @ 7:15 am

    R ~ It depends on the breed – some cows (females) have horns and some bulls do not. Baby is a black Angus; they do not have horns. The only thing all bulls have in common is balls!

  33. Po
    April 24th, 2015 @ 8:39 am

    Great picture and great story. It brought back memories of one of my favorite cows on my grandmother’s dairy farm. The cow, named Beauty (and she really was), developed lumpy jaw and it was so sad to watch. In my memory it seemed to me she was always crying, though I may be remembering my own tears.

  34. ClaireB
    April 24th, 2015 @ 10:05 am

    Thanks for posting this story. Always interested in the life around your Farmily. Keep us posted on Tinkerbell.

  35. Marva
    April 24th, 2015 @ 10:11 am

    My new desktop pic!

  36. Jenny C
    April 24th, 2015 @ 10:48 am

    Taffy (27) – haha!

    Once again, a Divine-Bovine shot. Sir Baby is the odd combo of monolithic & cute, all at once (could land a plane on his snout!), & Tinkerbell is truly lovely. So glad she has her own personal furnace for cold nights. Thank you so much for making this wonderful story possible, Shreve.

    p.s. – how are you feeling?

  37. Catherine
    April 24th, 2015 @ 10:58 am

    I remember when Sir Baby was born, my god time flies.
    He is huge….Great looking friends.

  38. Rose Marie B
    April 24th, 2015 @ 11:02 am

    I love this picture! Tinkerbell and Sir Baby need to star in Android’s next “Be Together. Not the Same.” campaign.

  39. Elaine ~ TX
    April 24th, 2015 @ 11:47 am

    Too funny #38 – I have that commercial bookmarked and listen to it once a day – LOVE IT!!

    Sir Baby is amazing and Tinkerbell is so cute!!
    Amazing to have a animal friend that big that still wants to be scratched and brushed. :-)

    THANKS so much for sharing these heartwarming stories, Shreve!!

  40. Molly
    April 24th, 2015 @ 12:01 pm

    What a great story. Any chance that Sir Baby is Tinkerbell’s daddy?

  41. Aleta
    April 24th, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

    Lovely story!
    My Appy stallion once stepped on my foot (by accident, I think: he had an odd sense of humor) and after about two minutes – it seemed longer – of pushing and pleas, in desperation I bit him on the neck. He moved, then looked at me with an indignant “Well REALLY!” expression. But he never stepped on me again. It was in his stall, so like your experience I fortunately ended up with just a very bruised foot.

  42. Charly
    April 24th, 2015 @ 12:27 pm

    I can’t get over that picture – what an absolute behemoth Sir Baby is! Just awe-inspiring. It is absolutely adorable to see Tinkerbelle peeking around his massive haunches, and it’s fascinating that they have become best buds. She couldn’t have a more impressive bodyguard. I hope she continues to grow and thrive, her sad start notwithstanding. You guys are the best for maintaining your special needs cows so lovingly. Great story!

  43. Meg
    April 24th, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

    Amazing and sad story. Sir baby is such a hunk!

    I am curious, how did you get sir baby to move off your foot without his expected shoulder scratches?

  44. shreve
    April 24th, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

    M ~ Similar to Aleta above, after begging and pushing (to no avail), I pinched his ear with my fingernail. He forgave me.

  45. Carol K
    April 24th, 2015 @ 5:27 pm

    What a beautiful picture. I can’t believe Sir Baby is already six years old!

  46. Suzy
    April 24th, 2015 @ 5:47 pm

    That is one of the best pictures you’ve ever taken. It speaks volumes. And of course your stories are always brilliant.

  47. carmel carnegie
    April 24th, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

    jackie said it well…love

  48. Gretchen
    April 24th, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

    Love this story and loving you on instagram. Thanks! #lunavistaquadra

  49. Cathy hooper
    April 24th, 2015 @ 9:03 pm

    Oh, they are so beautiful.

  50. mlaiuppa
    April 24th, 2015 @ 10:01 pm

    Is she a cow “midget”? In other words, does she lack the growth hormone cows need to grow? Would she benefit from it? I know BGH is something to usually avoid but in this case, would it be medically advised to help her grow?

    Is Sir Baby her Daddy? Do you think he knows? I think it’s fabulous he grooms her. Never heard of a bull doing that.

  51. Karen
    April 25th, 2015 @ 1:25 am

    The excitement of Life never ceases… again and again we learn through your stories that those that are different can be best of friends and that unusual happenings are so unusual at all! Sending love to the behemoth (Sir) and the dainty-one (Tinker)

  52. jeanne
    April 25th, 2015 @ 11:21 am

    Wonderful story and photo- got me through a miserable urban day last week. I read through all the comments today and saw your link to the story of Ricardo. Great memories.

  53. bumblebee
    April 25th, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

    Awesome and touching story… Sir baby is SO very special. Awww… bless his heart. SO glad the baby is doing well, a gift from her mama. Sorry about poor mama having that disease and not making it. :( Bless you too for caring for her as you did. HUGS to all of you!!!!

  54. Jo Davis
    April 26th, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

    Kirk and I were watching a wildlife special this morning that featured a segment on rodeo bulls and the cowboys who ride them in Alberta and I said ” Sir Baby has muscles like those bulls…even on his face, such a hunk he is but so gentle and loving with Shreve ” then I read this wonderful, sad but happy story!!!! He’s outside right now but when he comes I’ll have to read it to him….thank you and have peace filled week ahead :)

  55. Colleen G
    April 27th, 2015 @ 7:05 am

    He is gargantuan! What a sad but beautiful story. Rest in peace Mama girl and may Tink and Baby live happily ever after!

  56. nancys
    April 27th, 2015 @ 11:35 am

    I just LOVE this picture. Such a heartbreaking/heartwarming story. Life.

  57. Siobhan
    April 27th, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

    Have you ever read the children’s book about Ferdinand the bull? It was my favorite (still is, I admit it) and Sir Baby looks EXACTLY as I picture a living Ferdinand would look. The drawings in the book, I thought, did not do Ferdinand justice, and Sir Baby does.

  58. shreve
    April 27th, 2015 @ 1:46 pm

    S ~ Yes on all counts!!

  59. Felyne
    April 27th, 2015 @ 2:55 pm

    Proportionately, he is the right size to be Peter Pan next to Tinkerbell.

  60. Patricia Long
    April 27th, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

    I love the photo of Sir Baby and Tinkerbell—also loved the story of their friendship. I was sad to read of the death of Tinkerbell’s mother but so glad that you chose option 3 which does not surprise me at all considering who you are—thus resulting in the birth of Tinkerbell—really wonderful photo and story!

  61. Gabriela & Leo
    April 28th, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

    Beautiful. Sweet frienship and you should be so pleased to have helped it blossom. Thank you for sharing!

  62. Katballu
    April 29th, 2015 @ 4:03 am

    What a fascinating photograph!!And a lovely story!!

  63. Debbie Reno
    April 29th, 2015 @ 12:11 pm

    Love this story! Ok, I love all of your stories. Glad you are doing better. What a wonderful life you live! Continue your good work.

  64. SEMcC
    April 29th, 2015 @ 12:35 pm

    What a lovely yet sad story! I am so glad Sir Baby and Tink found each other and that they are part of your farmily. Thanks for sharing with us Shreve, as always.

  65. Laura
    April 29th, 2015 @ 9:46 pm

    Love this photo and story behind it. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Tinkerbell is a great name!

  66. Mark in TN
    April 30th, 2015 @ 6:12 pm

    Great photo (as always) and an even better story. Your photographic ability and your compassion are what has kept me coming back to your websites year after year. Thanks so much.

    P.S. Hope Eli is okay–not heard about him in a while.

  67. Julie
    April 30th, 2015 @ 9:30 pm

    What a massive animal Sir Baby has grown into! I would love to see him next to something familiar, for scale.

  68. Kim
    May 1st, 2015 @ 7:33 am

    Love this story of unexpected love <3 so cute

  69. Corri
    May 1st, 2015 @ 11:40 am

    Sir Baby’s expression is great His direct look into the camera seems to say “You gotta problem with that?”

  70. taffy
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

    To # 57 Yes to Ferdinand and Baby and the wonderful Disney rendition of the story…i always thought Frisco also, although not a bull i’m sure he would have been as sweet as Baby and Ferdinand as a bull too.

  71. carol
    May 5th, 2015 @ 9:59 pm

    I can’t stop reading and sharing this story. Sir Baby gives me faith and hope. And Tinkerbell can’t be beat.

  72. TomT
    May 6th, 2015 @ 5:17 am

    I love this story. Such interesting times with the Farmily.

  73. rockrat
    May 6th, 2015 @ 10:40 pm

    Be who you are.

    This guy is a boss and he nails it, with presence and peace.

  74. jamie
    May 14th, 2015 @ 5:24 pm

    Sir Baby is beautiful! He is so big!

  75. Rayjay
    May 24th, 2015 @ 3:15 pm

    I’m sorry, whoever told you that was a Bull lied to you. What you have there is actually a small Mountain!

    (He’s Beautiful, either way.) ;)

  76. Alyxx
    November 16th, 2015 @ 9:56 am

    I dearly wish even 1/10th of the beef farmers out there heard and saw what you do. Shreve, you and the Farmly are inspiring in your gentle loving kindness.

    Sir Baby has grown to be probably my favorite member of your tribe – a kind and unusual creature, full of the love he’s been raised with.

  77. torre
    November 16th, 2015 @ 11:22 am

    now this is just the sweetest post – and what a magnificent picture! option for a print?? Sir Baby looks huge! and Tinkerbell is so cute :) I like that Sir Baby looks after her :)

  78. Karyn
    November 16th, 2015 @ 6:44 pm

    Sir Baby continues to be a favorite for me! Good to know he now has a BFF!

  79. Deborah
    November 17th, 2015 @ 2:31 am

    Sir Baby found his inner maternal instinct and sweet Tinkerbell is his favorite — it’s as though he knew she needed more nurturing and stepped up. Is he her sire?

    If he isn’t then I am even more impressed that he’s taken such a nurturing role with TInk. It’s so cool, and I appreciate why you’re so behind it. Who would’t be?

    Keep getting better, Shreve, and let your voice be heard. Call me 707-689-7432 anytime. I wander my yards and gardens when I talk on the phone. I find that connecting with the earth (as in pulling weeds, pruning, harvesting) keeps me literally grounded with whom I’m speaking. You’ve got the right idea. Go for it.

  80. Eileen Fritz
    November 17th, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

    I always enjoy the stories about your family. You are such an exceptional and caring person…..such a good ‘mama’! Outstanding photo!

  81. Prairie girl
    November 18th, 2015 @ 7:11 am

    Heartwarming story!
    Thank you for what you do. The world’s a better place with you in it, Shreve.

  82. GD
    March 22nd, 2016 @ 4:42 am

    What a beautiful gift by Tinkerbell’s mom. Just goes to show, that no one/nothing is without value.

    Sir Baby is beyond handsome. What a hunk! It is almost like, Tinkerbell was her mother’s gift to Sir Baby. {{choked up here}}

  83. GD
    March 22nd, 2016 @ 4:44 am

    By the way: Ain’t nobody gonna mess with/pick on Tinkerbell. Quite the bodyguard she has there! LOL

  84. Holly
    March 22nd, 2017 @ 10:22 am

    This is a lovely story…sad yes, but with such a happy ending. Best buds, so unlikely yet happening….just love this. And Sir Baby, what a handsome bull…….Little Tinkerbell has a protector and a best friend for life….

  85. Holly
    March 22nd, 2017 @ 10:26 am

    And now she is a Mama…….congrats Tinkerbell…..Woohooooo!!!

  86. Gabriele Paffendorf
    April 9th, 2017 @ 5:32 am

    Look at how he’s grown….a big, giant, handsome boy he is. Of course he took on Tinkerbell, you taught him well and showed him kindness. The Farmily is unusual in the best possible way and you and your Cowboy are wonderful people. Thank you for all you do for these beautiful deserving beings. So happy they have one another, a very happy ending to such a sad beginning.

  87. Lora
    February 18th, 2024 @ 11:05 am

    wow, this is amazing, thank you for sharing. my world has been revolutionized and i now believe in the new aged God. Thank you

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