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Meet Scooter, the Calf that Lay Down With the Lambs

At the Kinderhook Farm in rural New York, a calf named Scooter has struck up an unlikely kinship with a lamb named Sophie.

"They are best friends. They are always together," said Georgia Raney, co-manager of the 1,000 acre farm.

Image: Scooter and her best friend are pictured here.
Scooter and her best friend Sophie at the Kinderhook farm. Georgia Raney

Scooter, a rare Red Devon calf, was born in mid-May but a couple of months later, farm staff noticed her mother was not bringing her in from pasture.

They went out to investigate and found Scooter in bad shape from an unknown accident. She had a broken leg and spinal trauma that caused some paralysis in her back end.

"I'm surprised she wasn't dead. She had clearly been struggling along for a few days and the cows had abandoned her, probably because they thought she was dead," said Laura Cline, the Kinderhook herdsman.

"Any rational person would have put her down."

But Cline saw a spark, a will to live, in Scooter. They brought her back to the barn to live, and the veterinarians put a pink cast on her leg.

Image: Scooter
Scooter suffered an injury shortly after birth and has been living with the gentle lambs. Georgia Raney

Week by week, Cline nursed Scooter back to health.

"She spent two solid months working with the calf every day — getting her up, getting her walking, feeding her with a bottle," Raney said. "And the calf got pretty strong. She really wanted to live."

As the weather grew colder, the question of where Scooter should live came up. She wasn't strong enough or big enough to hang out with the cows.

The decision was made to put her with the lambs, who were all born in the spring and had been weaned. They were closer to her size and they got really good food in preparation for being slaughtered.

Scooter has thrived with the lambs, who are protective of her, the farmers said. When the sheep hop out of the barn to eat, Scooter hops just like them.

"She's one of the flock now," Raney said.

They noticed she was always with a Dorper ewe lamb named Sophie, though it's not clear who initiated the friendship.

Image: Scooter
Scooter hops just like the lambs when they are led out of the barn to pasture. Georgia Raney

"It’s quite funny," Cline said. "They have their alliance."

"I can't explain it," she said. "But [animals] have individual personalities and preferences and sometimes they have friends.

"As long as it's reasonable, I would like to keep her with her lamb friends."

Although Scooter is only two-thirds the size of a calf her age, she will eventually be too large to stay with the lambs and Cline hopes to bring her to pasture with the cows sometime in the next year.

They're curious to see how well Scooter reintegrates into the cow world after so much time with the lambs. Her close relationships raises a question: Is it possible Scooter actually thinks she is a lamb?

"I've been thinking about that a lot," Raney said. "But I really have no idea."