Last May we acquired a calf, a cute little brown thing with big eyes and a busy tongue.
Update: As you can see in the photo of Melissa and calf above, he’s now a huge brown thing with big eyes and a busy tongue. In case you’re wondering, calf tongues are wet, so being ‘kissed’ by a calf leaves a slobbery streak on your coat or jeans.
The calf remains unnamed, so we are proud of ourselves, since he’s slated to become meat next year. However, when Melissa calls ‘Hey, calf,” he comes running. Hmmm. Does that qualify as a name? He loves Melissa and is calm around her. When I show up, he kicks and jumps and lowers his head playfully. Sorry, not interested in playing with a 500-pound baby.
It’s been a challenge helping him fit in. He first lived with the female goats until he started mounting them. (Although he’s been ‘fixed,’ he mounts something—or someone—when he’s happy and excited.) So we moved him out on pasture with all the ewes. This worked for most of the summer, but then he started mounting the ewes.
Time for a change, so we put him in with the young ram lambs. This worked well. He’d try to mount the ram lambs, but they were still so small they could just walk away right underneath him.
Then it turned cold, and we worried he needed more shelter. Time to move him to the boys’ dormitory. Up at the big barn live two adult rams (Duncan and Erik) and two male goats (Owen and Peter.) When we first let the calf into the pen by the barn, the rams and goats took one look at the calf, said “Holy crap,” and ran to the far side of the pen, eyes wide, sides heaving. We are about to be eaten, screamed their body language.
The calf suddenly found himself in a new place without friends, which meant he cried for us a lot. Mooooommmm, he’d bellow every time Melissa or I went up to do chores. He could see the house from his pen, so whenever we stepped outside, it’d be Mooooommmmm. No one will play with me. Why won’t someone play with me? Nearly broke our hearts.
But life goes on.
The rams and goats relaxed. They discovered the calf wasn’t going to kill them. They discovered that he actually makes a great rubbing post. He’s fun to push up against and play with. He’s always up for a game of Run Around the Pen, Hop Up and Down, and Pretend to Bash Heads. And yes, he tries to mount them now and then, but they just shrug him off, whirl around and say “Cut it out. Let’s play tag.”
So, happy ending for now. He’s stopped bellowing for us and loves his new buddies. Of course, when breeding starts next month, the rams will be off with the ewes, more interested in sex than anything else. If the goats can’t keep the calf company while the rams are gone, I’m sure we’ll hear Mooooommmm for a few days.