Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Killer Calves

June 9, 2009

The birth of a newborn calf. The little pink nose emerges, mamma cow gives a few dainty pushes, and there he is, all sweetness and light. She licks him clean, he gazes with adoring eyes at mommy dearest and all is well on the farm.

The next day I gear up.

Calves have a way of transforming into Little Chuckie Bovines in a matter of hours. Its our own fault. We teach them very quickly after birth that milk really comes from bottles. Mamma cow goes back to the herd to earn a living and les enfant makes the move to our hutch village. Yes, we know some of you feed your calves in groups, out of large communal buckets with multiple nipples, but not all of us passed eighth grade you know. And besides , calf hutches all lined up look so....neat.

At first the doe eyed babes are tentative and cautious. A sip here and a sip there. Suddenly, on instinct alone they suck HARD and their reward is the spilling forth, of warm frothy whole milk. Pure Latte on Latte. And the evil begins. A hungry calf is a killer calf. If you forget that you are putting all your own soft spots in grave danger. I should know. I'm a bottle calf survivor.

Here are some tips for you calf feeding newbies.

1. Its always best to just throw the bottle into the holder on the side of the hutch and just
run. Distract your calf first. "hey look, isn't that the milk truck leaking milk all over our
yard. ?"

2. If your aim is bad and you have to actually place the bottle into the holder, walk up
to the hutch with your knees clamped together. More than one farmwife has experienced
a SURPRISE hysterectomy by a concrete nosed , milk seeking calf. Don't trust your own
muscle groups to do this. Use a bungee cord.

3. When removing the bottle after feeding, use your right hand to grab the bottle, use your
left hand to pinch off the air supply going through the calves nose. You have 1.2 seconds be
fore little Fernando realizes he can breathe through his mouth, giving him enough energy
to make a move on you. Yes PETA folks, I'm just kidding (sort of)

4. Never BACK INTO a hungry calf. His nose will connect with your ...uh...landing strip and
you'll be unable to enjoy sitting in your husbands recliner for some time.

That should get you started. Be brave, be quick and may the force be with you.

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