A New Zealand farmer has told how he rescued his cows with a pick and shovel after they were stranded for 36 hours on a tiny pillar of land following yesterday’s earthquake.
Two beef cows and a calf became worldwide sensations after their predicament was filmed and broadcast around the globe.
The farmer, who hasn’t been named, said the three cows were part of a larger group of 14 they rescued from the property near Kaikoura, which was relatively flat before the earthquake.
He says those cows were lucky to have survived, considering the untold loss of stock on his farm.
The recovery was delayed for safety reasons, because the rescuers weren’t sure the earth below them was stable.
“The problem was we weren’t sure if there was going to be another earthquake, and we weren’t sure if it was going to continue to slide – that’s why we delayed going in. It wasn’t because we didn’t want to.
“We dug a track with a number of people. The soil was quite soft because it had all been tipped over and bumbled around. We managed to get a track in and bring them out,” he says.
“They desperately needed water. Cows don’t like living without water. So that was the first requirement, and I think one or two had lost calves in the earthquake so they were a bit distressed.”
He said the fault line runs right underneath his farm, and the quake lifted part of his land by 3m.
“It was very steep limestone bluff covered in lovely pasture a week ago and now it’s all in the gully.”
He says the very “docile cows” are now safe.