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  • Last modified 142 days ago (May 30, 2018)

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Shorty the cow is long on surprises

Staff writer

Much like Lassie, the movie and TV dog, who was determined to find her way home after being taken away, Shorty the cow didn’t like it in the city and tried to find her way back to the herd on the Larry Ensey ranch at Marion.

Shorty was deformed when she was born on the ranch 3½ years ago. Melanie Ensey said the calf weighed three pounds at birth and never grew much; thus the name, Shorty.

Shorty was born in a pasture during a cold February, and every night Melanie’s brother, Steve, would bring the little calf to the house for safekeeping.

The calf was bottle fed because she had a deformed tongue and couldn’t nurse, so, naturally, she became a barnyard pet.

“We knew she wasn’t quite right, but we wanted to keep her,” Melanie said. “She enjoys kids. She just stands there and lets them touch her.”

Shorty eventually developed a hump on her back, but she grew up with the rest of the herd.

A grandson from Valley Center would ride Shorty whenever his family came out to the ranch, so Melanie and her mother, Jackie Hett, decided to take the cow to the family the weekend before last. Melanie showed them how to take care of her.

But a fence holding Shorty wasn’t the best. She got out that night and was found across the road.

She got out again the next day at about noon, and this time she was not to be found. When the family got in touch with animal control 3½ hours later in Park City, the cow was found to be in the city’s possession. Officials had received numerous calls from people about a cow crossing their lawn.

Shorty traveled almost five miles from where the family lived.

“She probably wanted to get back to the herd,” Melanie said. “We kept her separated, so we didn’t think that would be a problem.”

The Enseys brought Shorty home Thursday. They have a Sedgwick County court appearance June 21 on an “animal-at-large” charge. They were told it was standard procedure, though they had convinced authorities that Shorty was not mistreated, just malformed.

“They thought she was a Brahma because of the lump on her back,” Melanie said. “It was quite an adventure.”

A year ago, Shorty surprised everyone when she had her own calf.

At the time, Melanie had taken special notice of Shorty.

“Shorty is doing so well,” she thought. “She is so sleek and fat.”

Several days later, she noticed a big change.

“What happened?” she wondered. “She is so thin.”

The answer came two days later when Melanie spotted her with a baby calf. The newborn weighed just 35 pounds, but Shorty raised her. The calf grew normally, gained weight quickly, and was sent to market with other feeder calves.

Now, Shorty is in a herd that is without a bull. They don’t want her to get bred again.

“She’s my special one,” Melanie said. “I’ve decided her purpose is to give pleasure to kids.”

Last modified May 30, 2018

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