It’s dark each morning when we leave to feed calves. Even the songbirds have sense enough to sleep in a bit. I hear the soft call of a turkey and the deep bellow of a bullfrog on the riverbank. Otherwise, not a sound. The only thing getting me out of bed at this insane hour is knowing the Hubs was able to sleep in some himself. That’s something, anyway.
After ten days, the Hubs and I have synced pretty well on a calf feeding system. I know my job and can do it without too much trouble, freeing him up to do other stuff. Usually this means he wrestles the smallest calves through bottle feeding. This morning he switched it up a bit.
There is a pair of bull calves a few days old who are ever so aggressive. I can’t help but think of the bumbling, exasperating and yet innocent Jethro Bodine, a la Beverly Hillbillies. Uncle Jed Clampet’s line comes to mind. “Don’t help me, son.”
They pull and tug so hard that it takes all of my strength to hang on to the bottle. When they are not feeding, they bang and butt their head on one another (or on us), trying to horn in on another bottle. Mama cow wouldn’t put up with their shenanigans for a minute. One tug-tug-pull on her teat followed by butt–butt-bang to her udder and she’d let them know who’s in charge of this milk bar!
The Hubs decided enough was enough. This morning we’d feed them in tandem. We’d hardly got started before “Jethro” pulled so hard on the nipple that he extracted it from the bottle. Splish-splash. We both took a milk bath!
By the time I retrieved the nipple and washed it and refilled the bottle, Jethro’d escaped the pen. “Bodine” finished his bottle and tried to follow him out but the Hubs was on it and corralled them both. I returned to the task at hand.
While Jethro ate, Bodine butted and banged away. When that didn’t work, he chewed on Jethro’s ear. Jethro was not giving an inch but every now and again, he unlatched a brief moment to give Bodine a solid head-butt in return. I cheered Jethro on, silently: good enough for him. Even in a preschool playground, sometimes you have to stand up to the bully.
By the time I finish morning chores, day has dawned and sometimes in the most exquisite fashion. We’re so thankful for the rain this week that I don’t mind that sunrises are few and far between. Squish-squashing my way out through the barnyard mud, I’m glad to have accomplished some small thing. I’m on the fresh edge of an unblemished day and delighted to stand witness.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23