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Holy cow! Divine bovine has cross on his head

The month: December. The place: A humble farm. The setting: Just perfect for an auspicious event. On a cold, dark night in the wee hours of the morning, a baby calf was born. His mother licked and licked his head, obscuring a very special detail about the little guy.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

The month: December. The place: A humble farm. The setting: Just perfect for an auspicious event.

On a cold, dark night in the wee hours of the morning, a baby calf was born. His nurturing mother, Fuzzy, welcomed him into the world by licking and licking his head — an act that obscured a special detail about the little guy that would soon generate headlines all over the planet.

“When we first saw the calf ... the mother had licked the hair and it was all sideways and we thought it was a regular calf,” recalled Connecticut dairy farmer Brad Davis. “Then a little later on in the morning we went in and there it was, standing right out. It was really quite a sight.”

“It” was none other than the distinctive markings of a white cross on the newborn calf’s forehead. The image had quite an effect on Davis, Davis’ relatives and friends and families all around the dairy farm.

“The first night that he was here, when we shut the lights out that night late at night, the only thing you could see in here was that cross showing in the dark,” Davis told the local Norwich Bulletin newspaper. “It was really quite a feeling. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, actually.”

Davis’ 70-year-old father, Andrew Gallup Davis, told the Bulletin that he’s never seen a pattern like this on any of the thousands of calves he’s encountered in his lifetime.

“It’s not one you look at and you try to make something out of it,” he said. “It’s pronounced.”

Visions, visions everywhere
Maybe it’s the season, or maybe it’s something in the water, but people have been seeing religious images in the most unlikely places in recent weeks — and not just on the heads of baby calves. A sampling:

  • Also this month, a couple in the Fort Worth, Texas, area said one of their hens laid an egg bearing the image of a cross on it. The egg was unusual — not smooth like all the others — and it had an indentation on one end with what appeared to be a cross. The couple, Pam and Tracy Norrell, said they believe it’s a sign of encouragement during the holiday season. (They added that eating the egg is not an option.)
Iron Jesus
In this photo taken Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 residue is seen on the bottom of an electric iron at the home of Mary Jo Coady, in Methuen, Mass. Coady says an image of Jesus Christ that she sees in the pattern on the bottom of the iron, which she first noticed on Sunday, has reassured her that \"life is going to be good.\" (AP Photo/The Eagle-Tribune, Grant Morris) MANDATORY CREDITGrant Morris / The Eagle-Tribune
  • Late last month, a Massachusetts woman who recently separated from her husband and had her hours cut at work said an image of Jesus Christ she discovered on the bottom of her iron reassured her that “life is going to be good.” The woman, Mary Jo Coady, said she planned to store the special iron in a closet and buy a new one.
  • In October, an Ikea furniture store in Glasgow, Scotland, made headlines when some shoppers thought they saw the face of Jesus on the wooden door of the men’s restroom. “It takes you by surprise. It is really clear in the wood,” one shopper told the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. “I was only heading to the toilet and found God. My wife thought he looked like Gandalf from ‘Lord of the Rings,’ but it is definitely more like the Turin Shroud.”

So what’s the deal with stories like these? Are such accounts simply bizarre? Funny? Deeply meaningful to the people who see the images — especially if they’re enduring tough times?

Basically, they’re all of the above.

Davis, the dairy farmer, told WFSB-TV he thinks the special marking on the baby calf may be a message from on high, although he’s still trying to figure out what that message might be.

He told the Bulletin that he hopes the image might mean milk prices will go up and the dairy industry will improve.

“The last couple of years have been the toughest probably ever,” Davis said.

‘Not totally surprising’
Neighborhood children have become enamored with the little calf with the special marking on his forehead. They decided to bestow upon him a biblical — albeit Old Testament — name: Moses.

The calf is living in Sterling, a small Connecticut town on the Rhode Island border, on Buttercup Farm, a dairy operation Davis co-owns with Megan Johnson.

Johnson said Fuzzy, Moses’ mother, is a red-and-white Holstein cow, and Ferdinand, his father, is a Jersey. Both Fuzzy and Ferdinand have the reputation of being exceptionally friendly animals. Davis thinks the pair produced an exceptional calf.

“He’s got a different disposition from other calves. You can see it in his eyes,” Davis said. “He has a very kind look in his eyes. Like he has something he wants to say to you.”

Ric Grummer, chairman of the department of dairy science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, told the Bulletin that it’s common for Holsteins to have white markings on their heads.

“I think what this is really ending up being is a coincidence,” Grummer said. “Sometimes that marking is in the shape of a triangle. Sometimes that marking may be very irregularly shaped. ... Clearly, if you get a nice unique cross, it’s unique, but it’s not totally surprising that something like this would happen.”

Saved by the cross?

Image: Dairy farmer Brad Davis carries Moses, a Jersey Holstein calf mix
In this Monday, Dec. 7, 2009 picture, Dairy farmer Brad Davis carries Moses, a Jersey Holstein calf mix at the farm of Brad Davis and Megan Johnson, right, in Sterling, Conn. Born the previous week, the calf has a white marking on its forehead in the approximate shape of a cross. (AP Photo/The Norwich Bulletin, Aaron Flaum)Aaron Flaum / The Norwich Bulletin

Johnson said she and Davis will see to it that Moses the calf lives a long, happy life.

“We’re going to make sure he gets a good life and doesn’t get eaten,” Johnson told the Bulletin.“We’d like to find him a good home where he can live out the rest of his life on pastures, you know, with somebody who cares for him.”

Davis quickly chimed in.

“We may get attached to him in the meantime, like we have with other animals here,” he said. “And he may stay here.”

This story contains information from The Associated Press.