Two heroes and two moms

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The journey for a young calf, which started in a mud pit in the remote desert west of Albuquerque, ended in a lush, green rural yard in Peralta.

Clara Garcia-News-Bulletin photo: For the first time since Ferdinand’s rescue, his heroes, from left, Sam Beam and Josh Binkin, were reunited with the young bull and his two adopted moms, Robbin Burge, second from right, and Becky Koster, right.

The rescue of the calf, later named Ferdinand, wasn’t a typical operation, and his eventual adoption is like a story made just for TV — and viewers around the country will be able to do just that.

Last weekend, a production crew for the Travel Channel filmed the story of Ferdinand, his two rescuers and his new owners, Peralta residents Becky Koster, a deputy with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, and Robbin Burge, an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department.

The account of this little animal’s life will be shown in a six to eight minute segment of “When Vacations Attack,” sometime in March or April.

The clip show’s producer, Maria Solis, said even though Josh Brinkin and Sam Beam weren’t actually on vacation when they rescued Ferdinand, it will present the fact that something extraordinary occurred while doing something fun during their time off.

Brinkin and Beam, both of Albuquerque, had been riding their four wheeler and motorcycle in the vast desert of Albuquerque’s West Mesa on Nov. 6. Beam, a ranch photographer, said, at first, the day started out uneventful as they rode over dune after dune, about 40 miles off the main road.

“I saw some vultures and ravens at a watering hole,” Beam said. “I knew if the birds were there, it meant that something was dead.

Curious, the duo went to check it out. They first saw a dead cow in a mud pit that had been shot in its head. But what they didn’t expect to find was a small, helpless calf behind the dead cow.

“I saw the little guy just pop its head up and it just crashed right back down to the ground,” Beam said. “I signaled over to (Brinkin) and he came over. Before I knew what was going on, he was already in the mud, pulling him out.”

As soon as Brinkin was on site, he said he only had one mission in mind: to get the helpless calf out of the mud.

“I went straight to the calf and into the mud,” Brinkin said. “By the time I figured out what was going on, I was sunk up to my knees.”

Barely able to move himself, Brinkin picked up the calf by its legs, but because the mud was so thick, his efforts were hampered. Brinkin pulled the calf’s legs, one by one, from the glue-like sludge and then pulled himself out.

It took Brinkin and Beam about a half an hour to pull out the barely breathing calf from the muck. But the two rescuers didn’t give up — and neither did Ferdinand.

Brinkin and Beam were able to carry the calf to their four wheelers, where he was able to stand up and walk around for a little while.

“He gave a little moo and then went down again,” Brinkin said. “So I picked him up and put him across my lap on the four wheeler and rode about 25 to 30 miles all the way back to the truck.”

When they arrived back, they set up a fire to warm the calf and covered him with jackets. In shock, the little bull began to shake. Brinkin took off in the truck and drove another 10 miles or so to fetch some water and to call animal control.

“They (animal control) showed up pretty quick, and it was a Sunday about eight o’clock at night,” Brinkin said. “We were really impressed. They took him and that was the end of the story for us. We called a couple days later to try and get a status check, but we didn’t hear anything after that.”

That’s where Koster and Burge come in. While Ferdinand was recovering at the Bernalillo County Animal Care Services, Koster was told by Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Lt. Andi Taylor about the rescue and the calf.

“She told me that they already had a family who wanted to adopt him — a 4-H family,” Koster said. “But a few weeks later, while we were at Albertsons in Los Lunas, she called me back and asked if we wanted him.”

Needless to say, Koster and her partner, Burge, agreed. So during the first snow storm in early December, the two picked up the calf from the animal welfare center and took him home to their place in Peralta.

Since the day they brought Ferdinand home, he’s adapted to his new surroundings and has become a treasured member of the family, which includes four dogs, two miniature pigs, fish, turtles and two mules.

“He loves to kiss — he’s an affectionate man,” Koster said. “We’re real animal lovers. I much prefer animals over humans, but Sam and Josh are an exception. They’re our heroes.”

As for Ferdinand, his life on the Peralta farm is more than just country living. Koster and Burge built him what they call his “man cave,” made from bales of hay and covered by blankets.

“He actually thinks he’s a dog,” she said. “I’ve only heard him moo twice, and it scared the (expletive) out of him. He comes in the house and he’ll walk around and goes right to the kitchen sink for his milk, which we feed him three times a day.”

Not only does blue-eyed Ferdinand have the run of the house, but he also enjoys Sunday football (the Dallas Cowboys is his favorite team) and every chance he gets, the calf will stand next to a portable heater in the living room.

Burge, who was initially hesitant of adopting Ferdinand, said she changed her mind when she realized that it would be the best for the calf and for their family.

“We always took in strays when I was a kid,” she said, “so it’s almost like second nature for us.”

When Burge first saw Ferdinand, she noticed his cute face and unique personality. She said he’s learned a lot since he arrived at their Peralta home.

He’s learned how to drink out of a bucket and dog bowl, he gets along best with the pigs, Justice and Judge, but he’s also friendly with the family’s dogs.

“No more stray animals; I think we have enough,” Burge said. “But he’s really, really calm. It’s just like having a baby colt.

“We tie him up for about 10 to 15 minutes every day to teach him some patience, lead him and when he gets tired, he’ll lay down in the grass and let the sun shine on him.”

Beam, who had taken video of almost the entire rescue, said he uploaded the footage to YouTube just to show his mom what had occurred. Little did he know that Travel Channel researchers would come across the video and want to tell their story.

“It was so incredibly heartwarming because Josh and Sam didn’t have to stop. They were out enjoying a day and having some fun when they came across this scene,” Solis said. “It just warms my heart that people actually care and make a difference in this little life in jeopardy.”

Solis also offers praise to Koster and Burge, who she says are caring people.

“I think Ferdinand will have a wonderful life.”

As Ferdinand continues to live his life on his Peralta farm, his rescue, recovery, adoption and nationwide TV appearance is not all for nothing.

“If it stops just one more animal from being abused, I’m good for it,” Koster said. “We just got lucky to adopt him.”

Ferdinand has also been recruited to be the mascot of a new program, PET, the Proactive Enforcement Team, which is comprised of both the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the Bernalillo County Welfare Care Service. The program teaches deputies that when they come across cases such as animal neglect, it could be a sign that something else might be going on with a family.

“Deputies partner up with an animal welfare officer and walk the neighborhoods,” Koster said. “It started because of Ferdinand. This has been phenomenal, and they’ve even been able to get grants.

“His purpose is really neat, but having him is greater than I ever thought.”

To view the video of Ferdinand’s rescue, go to www.youtube.com and search “Cow rescue remote location.”

 


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.