So the sun’s out for the first time in days. The calves have been locked up in the barn for 10 days. After I feed them, I let them into the barn to run around. But then I get a great idea. Why not let them outside? There’s a huge pen where they can run and jump.
I open the barn door, and off they go, cavorting and running and having a great time. The youngest, Little #2, is the most adventurous, ranging the farthest.
After five minute of fun, I say, “Okay, boys, back in the barn.” My technique is this: stick the bottle in front of them, and they’ll follow me back inside.
One problem. I’d just fed them. Their tummies are pleasantly full. No one is interested.
Chapter One of my new novel is waiting for me inside.
“C’mon, guys, let’s go.” I finally get the most timid to suck on the bottle and lead him inside. One down, two to go.
After much sweet-talking, I get the second to latch onto the bottle and follow me inside.
Now for Little #2.
But while I’m working with the others, he manages to find the baby-calf-sized gap between the red gate and the fence post, and now he’s in the pasture.
As exciting as that might have been, he’s in a strange place, and that’s scary. Suddenly everything is scary, even the nice woman who’s been busting her ass to feed him 3-4 times a day. I use the bottle to lure him close, but I realize the barn is too far away now for an empty bottle to keep him interested.
So I grab him.Try to pick him up. Fail.
I’ve been stuffing him full of milk for 10 days. What was I thinking? Finally I grab him around the chest and carry him like little kids carry very patient cats.
We begin our awkward walk up the hill. We stop to rest. Five more steps. We stop to rest. The calf is calm and quiet, but my legs are shaking.
After numerous rests, we make it back to the barn. He doesn’t mind when I put him back in his pen.
Heck of a workout. Legs shaking. Suddenly have the lung capacity of a heavy smoker.
Next time? Let the calves cavort BEFORE I feed them.