WILLIAMSBURG — Ginger the blind, dwarf calf was not expected to make it to her first birthday.
Now thanks to Life With Pigs Farm Animal Sanctuary, Ginger is getting a second chance.
Ryan and Mallory Phillips are the managers of Life with Pigs, 195 Maxton Ln, an animal sanctuary that Ryan founded in 2018.
The nonprofit sanctuary runs entirely on donations and takes in animals in need in order to give them a second chance at life.
What began with three pigs has now turned into a 23-animal farm.
Along with two human children, Ryan and Mallory’s family consists of three pigs, three cows, three dogs, three turkeys, five chickens, two roosters, two sheep, one rabbit and a parrot.
On Sunday, May 16, the family made room for a new member.
Ginger is an angus calf who was born with genetic abnormalities that led her to be blind and whose growth was stunted. Despite veterinarians predicting that Ginger was not likely to survive, she made it to her first birthday.
However, with an electric fence in her owners’ yard was not suitable for a blind cow. They needed to find a second home for her, and so Ryan and Mallory stepped in.
After their recent wedding on April 23, which included a wedding party of pigs and chickens, Ryan and Mallory decided to take in their next rescue animal.
Like their wedding date, Ginger also happens to be their 23rd animal.
The tiny calf has remained in a quarantined pen since her arrival last Sunday, with the family monitoring her. Ryan noted that the other cows are anxiously waiting to meet her.
“She already fits in so well with us and the other animals are excited,” Ryan said. “Our one cow, Maisie, just lays right outside the fence, waiting to meet her and lick her.”
Current sanctuary cows, Jenna and Maisie, will serve as Ginger’s seeing-eye cows once she is released into the rest of the yard. The two cows will be her buddies and help her find her way around.
Ryan is impressed by how Ginger has already found her way around the quarantine area after such a short period of time.
Once she is cleared by a veterinarian that will come out to the farm to check her, Ginger is expected to join the rest of her new animal family by early next week.
“She’ll probably come into the house since she’s such a tiny cow,” Ryan said. “She’s smaller than a Great Dane. She could easily come in and lay down in the living room with us. It definitely would not be the first time cows have been in the house with us.”
Often described as “grass puppies,” cows’ personalities are similar to that of a dog, just 1,000 pounds heavier.
Maisie will run up and down the fence to get a peek at Ginger, or Ginger will stick her tongue out of the fence to lick her new owners.
“Most people don’t grow up with a cow, so they don’t see how they develop that full sort of personality,” Ryan said, “When you drive past them, you just see them eating in a pasture and you think that they’re just these crazy animals that don’t do a whole lot.”
“Then you live with them for two seconds and you realize you can’t do anything without them wanting to be involved,” he continued. “They’re very much like a dog. They’re so smart, and curious, and loving.”
Despite being a year old, Ginger is still the size of a 3-month-old calf. At around 200 pounds, Ginger will not likely grow much bigger.
While the Phillips thought that they reached their maximum limit of animals for their farm prior to taking in Ginger, they couldn’t say no to this tiny cow.
“My strongest point is that I love spending time with the animals and making sure they’re living their best life here,” Ryan said. “So if there’s a blind cow that needs me, I’m always around.”
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