But as it turns out, the thunderbolt that injured Pen also struck Wixson with a strong sense of compassion for the animal. The calf, it seems, was suddenly no longer a mere commodity; to her, his life was more valuable than that.
"My husband said the first few days, ‘So, we're spending $300 to save this animal so we can eat it?' Well, today is my birthday. So last night I said I wanted Pen for my birthday," Wixon told news station WCSH, her eyes welling with tears.
"He's going to live out his life here on the farm, and we're pretty excited to have him. I think that's the best birthday present anybody can get."
There's no telling if the cattle farmers' unlikely new pet will inspire them to look at all the other animals on the farm with a newfound sense of affection – but sometimes the most illuminating realizations come in a flash. Truth is, millions of cows are killed in the United States every year, and each one started out as a calf as precious as Pen.