THE STORY OF BU
“Bu. We’ve named you Bu. We hope you like it. You’re never going to have another bad day again girl. We are going to love you and take care of you. You are going to change people’s lives Bu. You’re safe girl. You’re free.”
"She started out with a couple of steps, checking to see how her overgrown hooves were going to take to this strange, soft, green-covered earth."
"The one thing that we do know, and that we can all absolutely agree on, is that this cow, our beloved Bu, changed all of our lives forever..."
When Malibu Compost began, we all agreed to do our very best to protect and help people, planet and animals. Nothing is a clearer example of that truth - that tenet for us, then the day we rescued Bu, or as the real story goes, she rescued us. When we started Malibu Compost, the founding members decided that even though we’d never even sold a bag of compost that we were going to rescue cows.
Bu was our first. We found her as the auctioneer yelled out, “Go to beef!” We were at this horrible slaughter auction in Visalia, California. It was dusty and hot, and you could hear the sound of fear in the cows’ voices as they packed them into the makeshift stockyards for transport to the slaughterhouse. The trucks would roll in and the cows would tense up and get agitated as they vocalized their fear in sounds that would put a chill up any person’s spine who cared about animals. They could smell the death of the slaughterhouse in those transports.
They rushed Bu off, Randy yelled out to the auctioneer, “I want that cow!” The old crusty auctioneer replied smugly to Randy, “You don’t want her son, she’s a three-titter.” That meant that one of her nipples was closed, and they thought that she had mastitis, but nonetheless, they were still selling her for beef. Randy forced the issue and in no time, Bu was in Aaron McAfee’s trailer, and they were headed off to Organic Pastures dairy in Fresno.
They got to Organic Pastures and readied for Bu’s release to freedom. Just before they opened the trailer, Randy and Bu locked eyes and stared at each other for a moment. He spoke to her calmly and lovingly, “Bu. We’ve named you Bu. We hope you like it. You’re never going to have another bad day again girl. We are going to love you and take care of you. You are going to change people’s lives Bu. You’re safe girl. You’re free.”
And with that, Aaron swung open the trailer door and Bu stepped down to freedom. It was probably the first time that Bu had ever touched real grass. She’d come from a typical conventional dairy farm in the Central Valley, with concrete pads and cows packed in like sardines. Bu had recently calved because she was full with milk, but overall she looked underweight and filthy dirty. No-one had taken care of this poor cow. She was just another number, another piece of livestock. If she’d been one of the lucky ones, she might have made it to three, or maybe four years old before being shipped off to slaughter. Bu was just about two.
She took a very ginger first couple of steps, and then lifted her nose up into the air and sniffed what a real organic farm smelled like. She started out with a couple of steps, checking to see how her overgrown hooves were going to take to this strange, soft, green-covered earth. Within seconds, she was running the fence-line, with the warm, afternoon sun baking her filthy coat. She ran and ran and ran. It was a sight to see. She looked like she had a huge smile on her face.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, she slowed down and realized that the green stuff she was running on was a delicious pasture mix. Bu wasn’t really sure what to do at first, but once she stopped and started munching the green clover and grass, she had a look on her face like a kid in a candy store. We had to monitor her eating for a while, because she loved the pasture mixes so much, and even more than that, she loved alfalfa! Loved is an understatement. She devoured alfalfa like every bite was her last on this planet. We only let her have little bits of fresh alfalfa at a time, not only for her health, but also for the health of the pasture. She would have eaten the entire farm that first month or two if we had let her.
Bu was finally home. We had to separate her for a bit until the vet gave her a run-through to make sure that she didn’t have a cough or any sickness that might infect the rest of the herd. In the meantime, we gave her a bath and bought her a cowbell in anticipation of her moving in with the dry herd. She was going to live there so that her milk could dry up. It was really funny, Bu didn’t seem to mind her bath at all and she loved her cowbell. She acted like we were giving here a pearl necklace or something. She loved it, and more importantly, she was the only one on the entire farm with a cowbell. The other girls noticed it right away as we moved her into their pasture.
Bu became a herd leader and that “special cow” from the first day. She cleaned up well and was by far the most beautiful cow that any of us had ever seen. Bu had that “it” factor. She also had quite the personality right from the start. We would yell out “Bu!” in a high-pitched call from the fence-line and her head would pop up and she’d look over at us. She was looking to see if we had any treats. We took her treats. She loved carrot tops. She wouldn’t let any of the other cows near us, her humans, when we were giving her, her treats. It didn’t take long before Bu became a part of us and we became a part of her. Bu was the embodiment of Malibu Compost in a cow’s body. She became our spokescow. She became our family.
Bu passed away under a full moon on October 26th, in 2015. We’d moved her down to a gorgeous olive ranch near Santa Barbara when she was pregnant with Honey Bu, her first girl. She’d had Baby Bu, her first calf with us, right there in the pasture at Organic Pastures. Colum was there to witness his birth. She literally dropped him in the field, which is how they do it in nature. We named our Potting Soil Baby Bu, after Baby Bu, which is the name Colum gave to him. Bu also gave us BuBu out at Organic Pastures before we moved her south.
She had some complications with her pregnancy and birth with Honey Bu. Bu’s milk didn’t drop and Honey Bu had to be bottle-fed colostrum by our wonderful friends who allowed us to move Bu and her kids to Southern California. We were worried that Honey Bu wouldn’t make it, but she did. She’s an amazing and strong girl who has the same heart on her left flank that her mom had. Bu made it through to make sure that Honey Bu survived, but she was never the same after her birth. Bu would walk up onto the side of the mountain that looked over the Pacific Ocean and stare out to sea as the cool ocean breeze ran over her coat. We used to wonder what was going through her mind as she watched the tide move in and out.
When the tide finally went out on Bu, a giant piece of Malibu Compost passed with her. She was beautiful. She was the embodiment of elegance and strength befitting a spokescow. We all cried our eyes out as we buried her on the ranch that day. We took one side of the fence down so that all of her kids, Jenny the rescue donkey, and even the barn cat could all say their final goodbyes. And they all did. One by one, they came over and sniffed her gravesite and stood there until they were ready to move on. It was a funeral fit for a queen. And Bu, our spokescow and family member was a queen, a cow queen. The outpouring of love, both animal and human during Bu’s burial was amazing. As we smudged her gravesite with sage, two hawks floated in a circle above us… her spirit guides had arrived to take her to heaven.
We had over three thousand hits on our social media sites when we posted Bu’s obituary. Randy’s words had come true. Bu had changed people’s lives. She was one in a million. Bu made sure that she lives on with us forever by gracing us with her beautiful family; Baby Bu, BuBu and Honey Bu. We all consider ourselves blessed to have Bu’s children as our own.
But Bu’s story doesn’t end there. Her family grew again in October of 2016. Honey Bu got pregnant by one of the guys from the herd next door, and to the astonishment of all of us, she gave birth on the exact same day that Bu had passed one year earlier, the 26th. It was an auspicious occasion that only our girl Bu could muster up, and one that allowed us to celebrate her incredible life and passing in an even more wonderful and beautiful way. The Bu lineage lives on in Bu Moon Bu, her granddaughter. She was born in a pasture on the hillside and came out strong-willed and ready for this world, just like her grandmother.
To say that we are lucky is an understatement. Our lives would have been infinitely less without Bu. So you see… Bu did rescue us. Bu made all of us at Malibu Compost better. Better people. Better stewards of the planet. Better family. You might ask yourself how rescuing a cow could change your life this much. The answer is that we don’t really know for sure. Maybe it was fate. Or luck. Maybe it was us trying to do the right thing. Or, maybe it was an intervention from a higher power. The one thing that we do know, and that we can all absolutely agree on, is that this cow, our beloved Bu, changed all of our lives forever… and that friends, is The Story of Bu.