While 2020 won’t go down as a great year for most people, it couldn’t have gone any better for six Jersey calves. On May 14, at only a couple weeks old, they were sent to auction in Hagerstown, Maryland. The steers likely would have been sold and raised for veal. But in a stroke of luck for them, hunter/jumper trainer Kim Stewart arrived at the auction that night looking specifically for Jersey calves for herself and friends Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley.
“We were looking for Jersey babies just because we think they are so pretty,” said Kim. “They said, ‘Go on and go in the pen with them.’ So I went in the pen, and I was sending Scott pictures and videos. And then this one that was actually not pure Jersey because he has quite a bit of white on him—he’s probably crossed with a Hereford—he kept following me around the pen and kept grabbing onto my jacket. He was so cute, so I was like, ‘OK, obviously you’re coming home with me. I can’t leave you.’ ”
Originally Kim stuck with the plan—two for her and two for the River’s Edge Farm crew. But after she’d bid on four of the six, Scott and Berkley called her wondering about the other two.
“Scott said, ‘We’ll take three or maybe four. But get the other ones,’ ” said Kim. “They had already sold them at the auction, but I went to the cashier people, and I said, ‘Is there any chance, even if I paid the guy a little more?’ The lady said, ‘We don’t do that.’ And the other girl looked it up on the computer and goes, ‘Oh, I know him.’ She asked him, and he gave them to me just for what he paid for them. He thought they could have a nice home.
“So we had six; it was quite exciting getting them off the trailer,” Kim continued. “They got loose. They ran around the farm, and we got home at like midnight.”
Scott and Berkley took Hal, Greg and Cash, and Kim kept Rebel, Cream and Lightning. Instead of devoting their year to horse showing—with the River’s Edge crew in Flemington, New Jersey, opting not to show at all, and Kim’s GlenWillow Farm in Jefferson, Maryland, only trailering in to a couple shows—they raised these calves.
“We were bottle feeding those babies in the spring,” said Scott. “That took up a lot of time. It was actually fun; we got to be home on the farm and got to be with the animals more. I quite liked it.”
Kim’s farm morphed into something of an animal sanctuary, and it now includes her three calves, a Holstein calf named No Moo she got at 1 day old, and many rescued goats.
“These guys are funny; they hold their mouths open like a hippopotamus so you can drop the treats in,” said Kim. “They all have their personalities. They love treats; they love people. They’re really smart. They’re a fun addition, and we really do love them.”
For these six Jersey calves, 2020 changed from the year they were likely sent to slaughter to the year they were given acres of land at two top show barns.
“They’re adorable. They’re so smart, and they’re just so pretty too,” Scott said. “They came to Wellington [Florida] with us. They hang out at the barn. We’re really attached to them.”
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This article ran in The Chronicle of the Horse in our January 2021 Yearbook Issue.
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