MANHATTAN — The farming community of Manhattan is a close one - a point proven when a newborn calf was stolen just days before Easter. Now, the story of Sandy the highland calf is being called an “Easter Miracle.”
Sandy is only a little over a week old but at only two days old, she disappeared. Her owners turned to Facebook for help - and help came. “You know, we just check them every day and then went out on Friday morning and she wasn’t there and I panicked,” says Jenifer Carr, Sandy’s owner.
It’s a feeling that no mother, pet owner, or “ranch mom” like Carr hopes to ever feel. “We just started searching every pasture, every hole, every culvert, every ditch,” she said.
Carr says two days later, panic ensued. “We searched for hours and hours and hours and then later in the evening, we found the tracks leading up to our electric fence,” she said.
Someone took her. “There was a four-wheeler that had pulled up and must have taken her and peeled out,” said Carr.
But Carr did as any mother would, since Lezal, Sandy’s bovine mother, couldn’t. She asked for help. “I did the post in the Manhattan Montana Facebook page just to see if someone could come out and check, make sure they didn’t have her, she wasn’t in their yard,” Carr said. Word spread like a wildland fire.
“Over 18,000 shares between the two posts that I did and that was within 24 hours,” said Carr. “I couldn’t keep up with my phone. I had to leave it on the charger in order to keep charge to it because people were calling me from Arizona, Idaho.”
Meanwhile, Carr called stockyards across the area, but still no sign, at least until Easter morning. “I was standing there and I saw her in the field and I’m like oh, my gosh,” she said. “Oh, my gosh. Oh my gosh. And my daughter is like, 'Mom, what?' And I’m like, 'I think it’s Sandy.'”
It was. Sandy, days after she was taken from her mama, was now standing with her mama.
“I had my bathrobe on,” Carr said. “ I threw my muck boots on and went peeling out there. She just makes me so happy. They all just put a smile on my face.”
After 18,000-odd social media shares, the thief felt the pressure.
Jenifer says if it weren’t for the community, Sandy might not have ever returned. “No one was going to be able to sell her in a five-state area without someone knowing or seeing,” Carr said. “Facebook really—the pressure of social media brought her back.”
On Easter morning, to boot. It makes Carr think, beyond the bad in the world, how it is easier to find the good. “Some people are bad,” she said. “The people that stole her are bad and bad things happen but there’s so many more. I mean, you look at one person who was bad and then 18,000 people were working as hard as they could to help us get her back. Miracles still happen. She’s our little miracle.”
Sandy wasn’t the only calf stolen in the area. Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputies say a second one was taken earlier that same week at a different farm, something Carr hopes is brought more to light after what happened with Sandy.
No suspects have been identified yet.
“I can’t even tell you how many times a day to make sure she’s still out here,” Carr said. “We are going to be changing the policies on posting and making sure that they are safe.”