Bovines of Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary
Although it's customary to highlight just a few of the residents of a sanctuary, we couldn't decide whom to highlight and whom to leave out, as everyone is equally important to us and deserves to tell their story. So, we decided to tell all their stories. Following are short biographies of all the bovine residents of CCFS.
Eli and Marley
Eli was born on a small, family-owned dairy farm in Vermont. Like all males in the dairy industry, he was considered "useless" and bound for slaughter shortly after birth. Luckily, our friend Jason Bolalek of Destination Liberation negotiated his release and saved his life.
Marley was born on a factory farm. At about a week and a half of age, she was put on a transport truck, destined for a "nursery" and "finishing farm," at which she would be fattened for slaughter. However, she wanted to live, and she jumped off the transport truck. A kind person found her and took her to animal control, after which she was picked up by Sisu Refuge.
Eli and Marley were transported to Critter Creek together by Jason. On the ride, they formed a bond that has persisted, and the two now form each other's chosen family. They are a testament to the power of love and friendship, against the odds.
Lionel and Amos
Lionel the calf and Amos the piglet were rescued by the South Florida SPCA Horse Rescue as part of a large cruelty case. They were living in disgusting, filthy conditions covered in their own excrement. Authorities believe the animals were being sold for Santeria rituals (meaning live animal sacrifice).
As soon as they arrived at the SFSPCA, it was clear that Amos had bonded strongly to Lionel. It's likely both were pulled from their moms as soon as they were born. They were then kept in isolation in literal boxes. Lionel was likely the first friend Amos had ever known, and as a result, he never wants to leave his friend's side.
Since settling in at Critter Creek, they have remained inseparable. They don't have to spend time together, but they choose to do so.
Both are coming into their personalities. Lionel is very friendly and playful. Amos is kind of bossy with a big personality--don't let his tiny size fool you! Amos isn't too fond of notpigs (except Lionel, whom he clearly believes to be a pig... or at least a nearpig). Given everything he has gone through, we certainly don't blame him. He is warming up to us, though, slowly but surely.
Our largest critter, both in terms of size and personality, is Seymour the water buffalo. This big, big man with a BIG personality is from Vermont. His previous guardian thankfully rescued him as a baby from he buffalo dairy industry. As with cow dairies, male calves in buffalo dairies are also considered waste products.
Seymour is incredibly friendly, demanding pets and treats from everyone he encounters. Indeed, he is famous for his demands of BRUSH BUFFALO and WHEREFORE APPLES, and there are innumerable photos of people doing just that. When Seymour asks for something, you just don't tell him no.
Seymour's best friend is a cow named Pepper, who happens to be one of the most beautiful moos we have ever seen. The two have been inseparable most of their lives. However, unlike Seymour, Pepper wasn't treated as a pet but was used for breeding, with several of her babies sent to slaughter. As a result, she has been a little slower to trust. Thankfully, she has begun opening up and has decided that head and neck scratches are quite nice, as are apples.
The first and only baby Pepper has ever been able to keep is her little fluff muffin Truffles. The two are very tightly bonded, and Truffles is also very bonded to Seymour. Indeed, we think she may believe herself to be a water buffalo. She's something of a spitfire and totally fearless, not hesitating to headbutt with the biggest members of the herd--and winning! She also won't hesitate to tell Seymour when she's unhappy with him for staying in the pond for too long.
Cinnamon was bred into the 4H program where she was raised to be shown then slaughtered. Thankfully, she was saved from that fate by William (Willy) Olund. Willy and Cinnamon bonded tightly. He was a Vietnam veteran, and Cinnamon helped him cope with PTSD.
Willy tragically passed away in 2019, and his daughter Stacey was determined to find the perfect place for his beloved bison. It took some time, but eventually someone contacted us, and we were happy to welcome Cinnamon at CCFS.
Since her arrival, Cinnamon has slowly but surely warmed up to us. She readily comes up for cookies and to just say hello when we are in the fields. We don't try to pet her, since she is a wild animal and we want to give her space. However, she seems to feel comfortable with us, and the feeling is mutual!
Her two best friends are Mary and Florence the Holstein cows. Mary and Florence, in turn, hang out with Seymour, which means that Cinnamon is usually found with him, too. They make an impressive group!
Buddy the Biso-cow
Buddy the "biso-cow"--part bison, part domestic cow--was raised in Massachusetts on a "beefalo" farm. When his previous human attempted to unload Buddy at a slaughterhouse in 2020, Buddy had other ideas. His strong desire to live caused him to flee, ending up in the woods of Plymouth, Connecticut.
His trip to Plymouth led to an 8-month game of cat and mouse in which police captain Ed Benecchi tried to catch the elusive critter. In the process, Captain Ed, the police department, and the town of Plymouth bonded with Buddy, and they raised the funds to have him transported to a sanctuary.
When Buddy was finally captured in April of 2021, he made his way down to Critter Creek. At first, he was very scared. This changed quickly as he realized he was surrounded by animals who felt calm, safe, and happy. Within just a few days, he was taking cookies from us and no longer trying to run away.
Buddy now has his own little chosen family consisting of Eleanor, Daisy, Deana, Bunny, and Autumn. They spend the days together grazing, wading into ponds, using trees as scratching posts, and wandering around their 60-acre field. He seems to feel safe and content, and we really couldn't ask for anything more.
Philomena is the herd’s second sergeant. This sweet, friendly girl is always one of the first on the scene any time something is going on in her pasture. She never hesitates to guard her herd or whack an insolent newbie with her horns. Indeed, she still intimidates George Harrison Valentino, who outweighs her by a good 700lbs.
Sienna, sometimes known as the herd's "giant golden retriever," is a laid-back, affectionate teddy bear who will stand around and let you pet her for hours. And if you stop petting her, she’s liable to use your leg as a scratching post for her head.
Alexis Rose is very smart, and as a result, very suspicious. It took us fully a year to be able to pet her, and she still isn’t a fan of being touched by notcows. She arrived with Philomena and Sienna, and the three are best friends.
Lemmy was hand-raised at a friend’s farm, but unfortunately didn’t belong to them. When his true “owner” came to take him to market, they contacted us in a panic and begged us to intervene. We were happy to help, and the owner of the stock yard allowed us to bring Lemmy to CCFS. He is one of our most affectionate critters, and loves to come up and ask for pets and brushes.
Ozzy was picked up with baby Buttercup wandering in the Everglades by the South Florida SPCA. How he ended up in the Everglades is a mystery. He was possibly meant to be a veal calf, but he's quite the escape artist, so he must have managed to escape. Ozzy is very smart and sweet. He loves people, the babies of the herd, and eating palm trees. Indeed, he has destroyed many a fence trying to reach an inaccessible palm tree.
How Buttercup—who is at least 5 months younger than Ozzy and a Brangus, not a Holstein—ended up with him is another mystery, but somehow they ended up together, and this male calf took care of this young female baby while they tried to survive on their own in the wild together. They remain very tightly bonded. She is very sweet, and a good herd soldier who takes it upon herself to keep the donkeys in line.
Claire is the matriarch and herd leader. She leads with quiet but often intimidating authority. One doesn't try to pet Claire--it's a sign of disrespect--but she may approach you out of curiosity. She is a member of a group known as the Feral 12, a herd of 12 cows who had been put in a neighboring field and then left to fend for themselves. They were starving and drinking out of a swamp, then thankfully we were able to bring them to CCFS.
When Claire arrived at CCFS, she was pregnant. So, several months later, she gave birth to her huge baby, Ace. Ace was timid for a long time, but he has warmed up to people and now really likes having his head scratched. He's also still huge, and continues to grow!
This small black Dexter is Claire’s best friend. She is sweet but has attitude, and is the only cow who is allowed to push Claire around because Claire loves her (it still annoys Claire, though, who takes it out on other cows). People can pet her if she feels like being pet. She will often walk away, though, and make people feel unloved.
Like Claire, Bedelia arrived pregnant. Indeed, Bedelia gave CCFS its very first baby--Miss Astraea. From day one, she has been sweet and curious. But, like her mom, sometimes she will walk away, making people feel unloved. Hey, it’s a cow’s prerogative, right?
Fawn is our big beautiful Jersey girl with gorgeous eyes. There’s not a mean bone in her body. She likes to moo with her mouth closed. She’s good friends with Claire and Bedelia, but not allowed to push Claire around. Contrary to appearances, she’s not pregnant, just fat. Jerseys are often on the heavy side because their milk is meant to have high butterfat.
This shy, big girl is a member of the Feral 12 who won’t let any strangers get near her. If you ever manage to touch her, she’ll shake her head like you’ve poured acid on her (like oh yuck, notcow germs!). She does love cookies, though, and you can sometimes earn a touch on the nose if you give her enough of them.
Hedy is a huge moo—built like a horse—and something of a butthead. She has a way of looking at you like she hates you and it’s because she does. The only time she’s safe to interact with is when there’s a fence between you and you are offering her cookies. She loves cookies enough to pretend she doesn’t hate you. Don't take Hedy's dislike too personally, though. She's an equal opportunity butthead, being mean to cows and notcows alike.
Bruce was the second baby born at CCFS. His mom, Charlotte, arrived pregnant as a member of the Feral 12. He’s a little doofy but really friendly. He, Ace, and Astraea are the best of friends and often approach people as a group. It’s fun to hear him moo, because he doesn’t so much moo as croak like a frog. Charlotte sadly passed away suddenly in May from a gastric ulcer. She was a gentle, loving cow and we all miss her, most of all her boy Bruce.
Nala is a smaller girl, but don’t let her smaller size and sweet face fool you--she’s crazypants. She has been known to charge randomly when approached. In spite of her lack of friendliness to notcows, she’s a great mama to her boy Geddy. In fact, that’s perhaps what’s behind her crazypants-ness. No one is going to take that boy from her.
This sweet boy is Nala’s baby that was about 6 months old when he arrived at CCFS. He used to have a little of his mama’s crazy, but seems to have grown out of it and has become very sweet and affectionate, even with strangers. He and Nala are still very tightly bonded--where you find one, the other is never too far away.