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Bovine babe, Annabelle, joins critter crew at Mary Olson Farm

Annabelle, a 3-month-old Jersey-Holstein mix calf, is the young bovine star at the Mary Olson Farm.  - Courtesy photo
Annabelle, a 3-month-old Jersey-Holstein mix calf, is the young bovine star at the Mary Olson Farm.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The young 'un fancies a scratch behind the ear, fine food, a good gallop, a cozy bed.

Right now she's about the size of a doe, and, with those big brown eyes and white spots, even looks like one.

One thing — beside stealing your heart, she'll happily munch any sleeve that gets near her face and flicking tongue.

Meet Annabelle, a 3-month-old Jersey-Holstein mix calf, and the latest addition to the crew of critters at Auburn's historic Mary Olson Farm on Green River Road.

When she's a bit older this fall, Annabelle is to become half of the moo-'em-down tandem of Libby and Annabelle, the two bovine stars of WRVM's student field-trip program.

Annabelle's job: be a mascot; and teach citified kids where their food comes from.

"We like to have two cows so that we can rest one during a field trip and swap them out," said Rachel Burrum, curator of education at the White River Valley Museum.

"It's showing children and our students the source of their food. She'll do a meet and greet. Kids can come up and pet her. Some will choose not to. They might be a little bit afraid. But 80 percent of the kids will pet the cow," Burrum said.

Museum Director Patricia Cosgrove, then on the lookout for a new cow to complement the field-trip program, first laid eyes on Annabelle last Christmas at one of her favorite farm stands. Mere days old then, the calf had been outfitted with antlers, and kids were posing with her for holiday photos.

Cosgrove fell in love with the bovine babe at first sight. The farmstand owners listened to what WRVM's director had to say, then generously let her have the calf.

"We needed something very young to raise," Burrum said. "We had tried to have Libby inseminated, but it didn't work out, so we had been looking for a calf. Since then, we've had Annabelle at the farm and our cow loves her."

Burrum said Libby has grown so attached to the youngster that she moans when museum staff take her away to tend to her needs.

Libby has even producing milk.

"Even though Libby's a heifer, she started making milk because the calf was around. They're a great team together," Burrum said.

Annabelle is to receive a proper education at the Olson Farm School for Proper Bovine Deportment. OK, there is no such school, but Annabelle is going to hone her abilities at walking on-line, staying back, stopping and going, and more.

"Annabelle is being raised so she has good manners to be around students," Burrum said. "Every year we see thousands and thousands of children out there. It's free to the Auburn School District, so we see every first-grader and every sixth-grader in the district. She is going to be a big part of the program."

While people tend to think of cows as slow, plodding, lumbersome creatures, Burrum said, Annabelle — who should weigh between 900 and 1,100 pounds when she's all grown up — has what farm staff call, "beast mode."

"When she gets out in the morning, she is on her line and she runs and gallops," Burrum said. "You've never seen something run this fast in your life. She's just full of energy, but she's super young and already loves being around people ... Her life is going to be filled with good food, good shelter and lots of loving children who are going to learn that milk comes from cows."

Burrum said it should take about $1,800 a year to cover her expenses.

"It's not much, but for us as a nonprofit, it adds up," Burrum said.

Wanna help? Just go to www.razoo.com, key word search "Annabelle," and there she'll be. The site offers people a chance to contribute funds to things the calf needs, from a bale of hay, to a bag of milk supplement to vet visits.

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