Wobbly calf out of well, rejoins herd
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Times Staff Writer wendyr@htimes.com

NEW MARKET-AL- A 15-week-old calf is roaming the fields with its mother and other cows at Sunny Mound Farm today after being rescued from a 13-foot-deep collapsed well Wednesday.

Farm owner Mary Drakey said the calf probably spent the better part of the day in the hole. She and her boys noticed the mother cow running up the hill about 2:30 p.m. When they saw her standing over the hole looking down, they knew the calf had fallen in.

From there, the effort began to rescue the 400- to 500-pound calf.
Although they were off for the holidays, Madison County Commission District 1-East supervisors and workers pitched in. So did the New Market Volunteer Fire Department, Huntsville-Madison County Rescue Squad and the Madison County Sheriff's Office. Volunteer firefighters from Moores Mill also responded.

Don "John" Lones, who oversees the farm, also went to another nearby farm to seek out the help of Kade Hass, 24, a rodeo veteran at home on break from graduate school at Auburn University.

"Once we got on the scene, we did our research and came up with a plan," said Wendell Jones, New Market fire chief. Additional manpower and equipment were called upon because it was an old hand-dug well, originally 100 feet deep. "When dealing with an old well like that, you have to expect the unexpected," said Jones.

Once a harness for the calf arrived, the county backhoe assisted Hass into the hole with the harness. He was chosen for the job because of his experience with cattle, Jones said.

Hass said he had no trouble putting the harness on the calf in a space of about 3 1/2 to 4 feet where it landed. Once secure, the backhoe lifted Hass and the calf safely out of the hole. After some vitamin shots, the wobbly calf was reunited with its mother and started nursing.

Drakey said the family farm has been there since 1810. It's one of the first six recorded homesteads in Madison County, she said.

There used to be a house on the area where the well collapsed. About 13 loads of dirt had been brought in to fill up the well. She said it collapsed a couple of months ago.

She was planning to have more dirt brought in to fill it up again. The cows hadn't been kept in that area until Wednesday morning.

County crews used the backhoe to move some dirt from around the hole to make it safer.

Jones said volunteers are called upon from time to time to help rescue farm animals.

"We're here to serve our community any way we can," he said. "Tonight, they needed help and I'm glad it worked out good."

-------------------- It took them just under 2 hrs to set up and rescue the calf.