Olaf the Longhorn Calf visits the Copperas Cove Public Library
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Public Library received a visit from Olaf the Longhorn calf during its Summer Reading Program meeting for kids ages 5 to 11 Tuesday afternoon.
Olaf has his own Facebook page “Olaf the Longhorn” which is run by his owner, Julie Pack of Lazy JP Ranch in Dublin, Texas, who takes him around Central Texas to share and educate people about Texas Longhorns.
Born during Winter Storm Uri in February earlier this year, Olaf was named Olaf because he was all white and had been frozen to the ground after he was born. He lost a piece of his ear due to frostbite as a result.
Olaf’s mom is named Rose, and his dad is named Blackfoot. Olaf spent the first weeks of his life inside Pack’s home before he was able to live outside with his mom.
Pack said that Olaf’s ear makes him special and different, which is a message she likes sharing with people.
“We like to tell people about being special and how being special is okay even if you’re a little different than other people, because that’s what makes us special, and if everyone was the same, it would be boring,” Pack told the group of children. “It’s nice to have friends who are different, just like Olaf’s a little different. Has anybody ever met another cow that comes in the house? That’s pretty different, isn’t it, and it’s what makes Olaf special.”
Pack also shared information about the history of Texas longhorns, which are a breed of cattle that descended from the mixing of Spanish cattle, called criollo, and English cattle that frontiersmen brought to Texas from southern and midwestern states in the 1820s and 1830s. The resulting longhorn were cattle with a high drought-stress tolerance.
Pack explained that at one point in time, the longhorn was near extinction. In 1927, Will C. Barnes and other Forest Service men collected a small herd of the longhorns for breeding stock in South Texas for the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, and a few years later, small herds were gathered for Texas state parks, according to the Texas State Historical Association.
In 1964, Kerr County rancher Charles Schreiner III founded the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America. Other registries for longhorns include the International Texas Longhorn Association and the Cattlemen’s Texas Longhorn Registry. In 1995, the Texas Legislature designated the Texas Longhorn as the state mammal.
Pack shared that a longhorn’s horns will continue to grow throughout their life. One of the longhorns at her family’s ranch, Merlin, has horns that are almost eight feet from one point to the other point.
Pack started showing longhorns in 1996 and her family started raising them in 1998.
“It’s great to have something with this kind of disposition that we can take and go places, and so that’s kind of what I want to do with him for the rest of his life is to be able to go to the library, to the schools, to the nursing home, to events just so people can not only get to interact with him, but again, because he is special, his ear’s not perfect and we’re not all perfect but it’s nice to have friends that are different, and then to be able to go to places like the nursing home where they don’t always get that kind of interaction anymore,” Pack said about Olaf. “It’s been great. We’ve been having a blast, and I just love to see the joy on people’s faces when we show up.”
Pack said that she liked being able to bring agriculture to people of all backgrounds.
“If you don’t grow up on a farm, you don’t always have the opportunity to see a live cow or learn about the heritage and the Texas history and all that that goes with it,” Pack said.
For Christina Westover and her two children, Mia, 6, and Damian, 3, Tuesday’s special visit was an opportunity to get up close with a calf in a way they had never experienced before. The family had also attended the Austin Reptile Show program last week.
“We’re coming from Nevada, and we just moved here, and I’ve never have seen a calf or been that close to snakes or turtles, and it’s exciting,” Westover said. “I like that it’s in the library- it’s a safe place, and we’re learning.”
Westover said she wasn’t sure what to expect after seeing the longhorn mentioned on the library’s calendar.
“We thought it was just going to be like story time,” Westover said. “I thought it was going to be a book. We’re going to come and read a book, and then we were coming, and [Mia] was like, ‘Mom, there’s a little calf!’”
The library’s Summer Reading Program will run through July 22. Texas Master Naturalist Lynn Williams will be at the library next Tuesday at 2 p.m. to discuss Texas birds with the kids in the ages 5 to 11 group. The Daniel Benes Science Show will be the final Summer Reading Program show of this year, on July 22, with 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. shows.