Farmhand's Journal : Loving Norman
Think of it as an arranged marriage; livestock breeding has nothing to do with love. Unattached from the emotions of their animals, farmers generally select whichever mate they see fit for a particular animal and that's that. It doesn't matter if the animals are attracted to each other because mating is instinctive. Can you imagine what the world would be like if humans had no romantic attraction and we bred with whomever was around because our instincts told us to breed? Life would probably be a lot like it was in college.
Meet Walter: A Navajo-Churro ram at The FARM Institute about six years old. He is white with a few brown patches. One side of his head has a beautiful thick horn that curls around his ear almost perfectly while the other side has a thick stump that if not trimmed grows into his head giving him a sort of cock-eyed, innocent appearance. You would think a ram, still in his prime breeding phase of life would be completely content prancing around with nine female sheep every day, but that's just not the case. Walter, although very much a sheep, would rather spend his days in the company of a different species - most especially Norman.
And now meet Norman, a Belted Galloway bull, also about six. Belted Galloways are stocky black beef cattle with a thick white stripe or "belt" running vertically in the middle of their backs. They are often referred to as "Oreo cookie cows." Norman plods along the field munching the grass and keeping an eye on his girls.
When the two find each other, which normally happens while the female animals are giving birth each year, they are quite a pair. Walter becomes Norman's shadow, like a dog obeying a command to heel, trailing along at Norman's side, mimicking his behavior. They graze together, rest together and run and play together as if they were youngsters skipping through a field of daisies, except that Norman is a 1,000-pound Galloway bull and Walter a 180-pound Navajo-Churro ram.
Generally their bond is of great amusement to the FARM staff and the two just live contently in the fields together. However, when the other cows get involved it can be a little scary. Maybe the other cows don't understand why a sheep would feel privileged enough to be part of their herd. One thing I do know, those cows want him out.
One day Walter snuck in with the cows and was being pushed around by some of them. The best way to rescue him was to bring all of the cows back into the barn (of course Walter followed), then, let them out one by one until only Walter was left. Unfortunately when we got them all into the barn they preceded to bash Walter with their heads and chase him around mercilessly. He kept his eye on Norman, and after each blow would run back to him. The things we do for love. We were able to get Walter into the safety of a nearby pen before he sustained any injuries.
I am by no means an animal behaviorist, although I aspire to be one. I can't explain why two animals of different species who met as adults and don't really spend much time together have built such a strong bond. Something must have happened to Walter to make him so attached to Norman.
Then again, who's to say it isn't love?