A loving home for 'Beautiful creatures'

Jenni Spinelli fed hay last week to Bo the Bohemian cow on Bucky’s Bull Rescue, named after Bucky the bull (back). (Lower photo) GOATS CAL AND BLUE curiously checked out a visitor at Bucky’s Bull Rescue in the Town of Holland. Goats, a pig, ducks, bulls, cows, cats, chickens and a dog inhabit the farm. Photos by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Bucky’s Bull Rescue is named after a gentle, 2,000-pound animal, but don’t be fooled.

Visitors to the Town of Holland farm are greeted by Gnarly the curious chicken and Quackers, Dilly, Addie and Weasy — four chatty ducks whose waddles kick into high gear when running after someone carrying their favorite treat, mealworms.

Inside the barn, Peggy the Hereford Yorkshire sow sticks her nose outside her enclosure for pets and apples. Goats named Blue, Trouble and Cal come to the edge of their fence to investigate and nibble on anything that gets near their mouths, including hands and arms.

It seems founder Jenni Spinelli never met an animal she didn’t like. She can’t save them all at her three-acre farm, but networking in the tight-knit sanctuary world helps find forever homes for many.

“It found me. I didn’t make a conscious decision of it,” Spinelli said of saving animals. “The more we did, the better I felt.”

She and her husband Jack Martin were city folk their entire lives before being driven to the country by Covid.

Martin had worked at a nursing home and Spinelli worked in health care keeping families away from their loved ones during the pandemic. It was so difficult she developed chest pains.

“We came home one day and said we can’t do this anymore,” Spinelli said.

They bought a farm that came with several chickens. Spinelli wore open-toed shoes her first time walking through the pasture and Gnarly pecked at her shiny toenails.

The three goats were purchased as lawnmowers for the pasture, and that has worked to perfection.

Spinelli grew up in Shorewood with dogs and loved animals. She followed rescue farms on Facebook.

Then they got Bucky the bull, who opened Spinelli’s eyes to the cruelty in the dairy farm industry and caused her to go vegan.

“He was the one who taught me to be a cow mom. He led me to this,” Spinelli said.

They held him when he was just a day or two old and saved him from becoming veal. Bucky had E. coli and sepsis. “Very often it takes their life, but Bucky fought back,” Spinelli said. “Our big animal vet believed we needed to save this baby.”

Bucky was 70 pounds at the time and fed through a tube in his throat.

“I slept in the stall with him,” Spinelli said.

Bucky now weighs about 2 tons at 2-1/2 years old.

Unless they’re used to sire, “You would never see a Holstein bull this big,” Spinelli said. “They just don’t exist in the dairy industry.

Some bulls are shot when they’ve outlived their usefulness. They would garner less money at auction than it costs to feed them.

“They’re just disposable,” Spinelli said.

She wants to give them a good life. She has become something of a bull and cow whisperer, rubbing and kindly talking to her six animals, sometimes feeding them bananas. They listen.

“Having a 2,000-pound animal trust you, that’s powerful,” Spinelli said.

Her humane treatment stretches to the electric fence. It only feels like the snap of a rubber band, she said.

The cows are sent outside and brought inside at the same time each day. They know their individual stalls and walk right in. Spinelli said they thrive on routine. She thrives on them.

“Once we started getting animals, I’ve never felt more myself,” Spinelli said.

Bo the Bohemian, who is known for rolling his long tongue upward around food to put it in his mouth, needed a home after being shown in 4-H in Stevens Point. The family that raised him stays in touch and comes to visit.

“There aren’t a lot of rescues who take cows. They’re big. They’re expensive,” she said.

They’re also smarter than they get credit for. “They’re intuitive. They feel and sense your emotions,” Spinelli said.

Ruth came from  Autumn Farm Sanctuary in the town of Cedarburg whose owners are being charged with animal neglect.

Bucky came from Marshfield and his pal Frankie and the youngest bull, Forrest, named for running around when he was young, came from West Bend. Ruth cleans Forrest with his tongue every day.

Then there’s Bob. Spinelli gets emotional telling his story.

A couple of months ago, a woman called Spinelli out of the blue after seeing a calf standing in the same place near the road, even in the rain, during her commute to work. The owner said the animal had a bum leg and allowed Spinelli to take him.

Bob could barely walk and drooled from taking pain meds.

Spinelli’s vet, Colin Wimmler, came right away. He took off Bob’s bloody bandage and determined the calf had a septic infection at birth that spread to his leg. He went back to his office to search for resources and networked with colleagues. Nobody heard of a cow surviving it.

That made the decision easy but heartbreaking. Bob was given something to make him sleep, then euthanized. They knew him for three hours. The woman who found him stayed the entire time, naming him after her godfather.

“He passed comfortable and warm with all our hands on him. I don’t think I’ve ever been that sad.”

They held a ceremony and buried Bob next to the fence. For a week, “Every day Bucky would go out of his stall and stand in Bob’s stall,” Spinelli said. Then he would stand next to where Bob is buried.

A volunteer brings flowers to the gravesite every week. Spinelli is getting a memorial bench for Bob.

“These animals are part of my family. I made a commitment to them and them to me,” she said. “You have to be pretty brave, I think, because your heart can be broken pretty hard.”

None of her animals are cash cows. Spinelli and her husband have been saving animals for nearly three years. Their operation got nonprofit status last August.

Spinelli’s day job is running Synergy HomeCare, which she founded in 2020 to help seniors live at home. She can manage most of it from her home, allowing her to spend four hours a day in the barn. She said 80% of her salary supports the farm—she also makes and sells vegan cheese—and is always looking for donations of money, food or time.

Spinelli’s husband works in information technology for Vollrath Co. in Sheboygan and helps manage the farm.

Inside the house, the couple have Rocky the rescue dog and Gummy the rescue cat, who Spinelli met as a kitten when it was sick and would have likely been killed by predators.

Deciding to take new animals sometimes depends on fundraising. Every cow, Spinelli said, “will have a $200 vet bill right away” since all get checked and isolated for two weeks in case of disease.

Her next step is activism.

“We have this big illusion about dairy cows and how they live,” Spinelli said.

They’re chained, not allowed outside, “raped by someone’s hand inseminating them” and work until they can’t, then are killed.

“I want to do more. They’re beautiful creatures. They don’t deserve to be treated like that,” Spinelli said.

Bucky’s Bull Rescue is hosting a volunteer workday and potluck lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 1.

For more information, visit www.buckysbullrescue.org.


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