- You probably lost a dog or cat at some point during your life.Perhaps you rescued yours.But chances are you probably never trekked across several feet of snow to do it.One family did - and it wasn't to find a small pet."My grandpa came from Finland in 1888," says Iron Belt farmer Rudy Kangas.
Making my way to the Kangas farm, outside tiny Iron Belt, in Iron County, took plenty of patience.But for this story with the Kangas family, native Finlanders who have been here for more than a century, it was worth it."What are you going to do? I don't know. Can't leave the calf out there," Rudy's nephew Jason told me.The calf, a rare March birth, came to the family under unique circumstances.73-year-old Rudy led his four cattle to a trail one night, like he usually does."Then in the morning, only three of them came back. Then I called by brother, and my nephew, and said the cow's probably going to have a calf," said Rudy.That's what cows like to do - get away from other animals when they give birth.Jason spotted the cow first."When we came over, I saw it coming across the deep snow in the morning," said Jason.The cow was much lighter - it had clearly had a calf.A calf that was nowhere in sight."Jason backtracked with the skis into the swamp and found it, and then he skied out with it," Rudy said.True to good old Finnish heritage, those skis weren't something new from the sporting goods store."Made by a couple of old Finlanders that were neighbors of ours that lived a quarter mile away. We have more than one set. They're made from yellow birch. Preferred wood in this part of the area," Jason told me as he showed off the skis.The family thinks the skis are about 80 years old.But they worked just fine to rescue the calf."I slapped him over the shoulder, and I was just holding it while using one arm to balance myself," Jason remembered.Now just more than a month old, the 'little calf' is in great shape."Oh, beautiful. You see him there. He's all full of his winter fur and everything," Rudy said, motioning.Maybe in part from being rescued from deep winter in a style that would make the Old Country proud.
Written By: Ben Meyer