Nineteen-year-old cow lover, rescuer and devotee Jasmine Hubber has always had an affinity with the bovine species, owning three cows at the mere age of seven. Now she dedicates her days liberating calves and cows who are destined for the abattoir.
Even when I was little I was like ‘I’m going to have a place where cows never get eaten’.”
And she does. That place is ‘Til the Cows Come Home’, a cow sanctuary on a 32-acre lifestyle block in the heart of the little North Canterbury town of Cust, where vegans are rare and cow sanctuaries are entirely unprecedented – until recently. For over two years this sanctuary has been a haven, an oasis where these rescued beings happily and healthily live out their days, basking in the sun and roaming the fields.
All 108 – and counting! – of these beautiful beasts, all breeds and sizes, have been saved from their inevitable demise from farms all over the country – from Northland through to Oamaru. Jasmine is often contacted via her Facebook page, social media and other connections by people who have information about cows and calves that are due to go the abattoir and can be rescued. She is also contacted by a few local farmers when they have bobby calves available for rehoming.
Each has its own name; Nellie, Templeton, Luna and Russell are just a handful of the happy herd. And although cows are Jasmine’s primary focus, she doesn’t just stop there; other animals feature regularly, with lambs and goat kids the latest additions to her backyard, alongside a newborn calf.
So why cows? “I grew up and I saw exactly what happened to them, I saw that they didn’t mean anything to anyone except for the price tag that was on them,” Jasmine says. “They are so peaceful, they have amazing personalities and they just don’t get enough credit.”
Jasmine was born in Christchurch and raised in Springston until age eight before her family moved out to an 1100-acre plot in Amberley, where they ran a commercial beef and dairy grazing farm of around 900 cows. After moving to Cust four years ago, Jasmine began to take cows in one by one, and soon she had 10. The year 2017 saw the rescue haven really taking shape, particularly after popularity for the ‘Til the Cows Come Home’ Facebook page skyrocketed.
Fast forward two years and Jasmine’s life is nothing short of busy! But not only is the sanctuary an ongoing 24-hour commitment, there are substantial associated costs; grazing fees, vet bills and stockfeed costs, to name but a few. Winter is obviously the most expensive time of the year, and extra costs come in like blankets for the babies, milk powder and bottles and extra feed. “Cows keep warm by eating and if they don’t have enough food, they can’t keep warm because their blood sits so close to their skin. A hungry cow is usually a cold one too. We feed out a lot during the winter so they can keep nice and warm.”
The sanctuary’s bills are partly funded by Jasmine’s own income from her full-time job, and partly through donations and sponsoring acquired through her thriving Facebook page. When unexpected costs arise, such as vet bills and extra feed, Jasmine requests donations via Facebook or Give-A-Little – these kind contributions, however small, help to keep head above water. Regular and random donations vary from $1 to $50, but some extend into the thousands. “One time we got $6,500 from a vegan restaurant in Thailand, which was really cool!”
Jasmine’s favourite thing about what she does is watching the cows grow into their own personalities. “They feel really comfortable and relaxed… they start to get really excited about things like food, and when we put them on the big grazing and it’s just hills and grass, they are so happy. Now they’ve filled out and they’re so fat!” she laughs. “That’s the best thing… knowing that once they’re here, that’s it, they don’t have to worry. It’s their last stop.”
Jasmine offers sponsorship starting at $10 per week and sends the sponsors regular photos and updates of their chosen cow.
To sponsor, donate or for more information on Jasmine’s heartwarming journey, visit facebook.com/TiltheCowsComeHomeFarmSanctuary or email tilthecowscomehomesanctuary @gmail.com.