Friday, May 15, 2009


"He's so huge, I think I'll call him Goliath."

I turned down two invitations to go out visiting today, because I’m still coughing and blowing. But I didn’t have the heart to refuse the one that came from Scott after supper.
“Wanna bring the camera out and get a picture of me with this big calf?”
It was born today and is twice the size of most newborn calves, and Scott is tickled.
So I put on my winter jacket and a pair of shoes and followed him to the corral next to the barn. It wasn’t until he opened the gate and made his rubber-booted way across the thick, spongy manure-covered ground to a brown calf on the other side that I hesitated.
“You want me to go in there? With that mother cow eyeing me like she is?”
“She won’t bother you.”
“So you say. She’s not happy about something.”
“She’s telling me to leave her baby alone, and she wants him to go to her.”
“Yeah, well….”
Walk in shit up to my knees, and risk that cow coming after me—no problem. You'd think he'd know me well enough by now to realize—but no, apparently not.
“Are you going to take a picture, or not?”
By now the calf and its mother had reunited and the cow had returned to her feeding station, and Scott had followed and was wondering what my problem is and why I’m such a coward. Which I am; never doubt it. But I set forth across the crap, one eye upon that one-ton Annie, and snapped a photo for the man. He loves those little calves and it's quite endearing, really, to see him scratch their chins and heads and listen to him talk to them like pets. And they are cute and curious.


Last time he told me not to worry about cattle was a few weeks ago when he'd asked me to go for a walk in the pasture with him to "check on them." That was this spring when, as now, there are newborns and there are cows in labour most every day, and one has to be on top of the whole thing in case a cow needs help giving birth. I was reluctant, but went along, and was nervous as hell.
"Just stay close to me," he said. Exactly what I wanted to hear; it didn't make me feel any more confident.
Unfortunately, the neighbour's dog happened to be here that evening and decided to follow us inside the fence. We were in the midst of the herd of cows and calves when the cows spotted the unfamiliar dog and rounded on it. Their hooves hitting the ground sounded like thunder and I thought sure as shit we were going to be pounded into dust. It's not like that didn't scare me any.


  1. He looks so happy (not the calf)

  2. That's exactly what I was thinking ... he looks like a little boy with a brand new toy. And the truth is, he IS really pleased. I think it's so cute.

  3. Kay,

    I can relate to the fear of bovines...I remember being in Carlyle and Christian and I were billeting at a cattle farm. There was one calf that was still with the herd instead of being fattened up for slaughter and it was my job to try and catch it. We would break the bales of feed and scatter it from the bed of the pickup truck--summer tires in 2 feet of snow, I learned a lot from that farmer...--leading the cattle up to the pond where we would break a hole in the ice for them to drink from.

    As Christian and the farmer, whose name escapes me, made their way off to do some other farm task, I would stay at the pond with a lasso rope and wait for the calf to make its way there where I would capture it...hah!!

    Well, let me tell you that this city boy was ill-informed about the size, intelligence, rage, strength, familial bondness, speed and weight of a mother cow. The mother cow, with a few select friends (sisters?) would never let me get close to the calf, which was as nimble and quick as a young dog. Finally after days of waiting, I got my chance as the calf was within 10 feet of me for the first time ever. Quickl as a bunny I let the lasso fly and the mother even quicker, stepped right in the way of the rope and I got her right around the neck.

    Well off she ran hardly even noticing the wild-eyed, splayfooted rube she was towing behind her. I was holding on for dear life and she took me for quite a spin until finally she ran through a snow drift. I didn't make the same impact on the drift and I went flying headfirst into the snow.

    I picked my sorry ass up and made my way to the pond to wait for Christian and the farmer, who was a man of few words but much wisdom. They came back and had a huge laugh at my expense and snow-covered appearance. He took the truck, quietly tracked the mom and her calf and gently stopped, summer tires on the rope that had been yarded from my grasp. He got back his rope and then got his young son, on another day, to bring that calf into the fattening pen (that same son rudely came and interrupted my post work hot chocolate after I had just shucked all my winter gear and settled down in the comfy chair waiting for dinner to say that I had to come with him to check a trap...but that's another story).

    Cheers, Peter


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