When I first started feeding calves, I loved it. My husband would do chores and then come finish milking for me so I could fill a couple buckets of milk and go convince the calves that a bucket is just as good as a bottle.
Then work started piling up and my husband wasn’t able to come and relieve me as quickly as before.
Turns out feeding calves is not nearly as fun when you’re exhausted.
It was around that time that one of most annoying cows freshened in with a heifer calf. Oh, what an ugly calf. What an annoying calf. What a stupid calf.
It refused to drink from the bucket. It got scours. It licked me obsessively. It was downright dopey.
“We can sell that one,” I told my husband after the tenth time she spilled all her milk.
That evening my parents stopped by to visit with their two foster daughters. Long story short? They named the calf Moo-Moo and LOVED her.
I sighed and went back to teaching her how to drink properly.
It went that way all through the winter. She was trouble with a capital T. Always getting out of her neck chain. Always hanging out in the manger, instead of standing properly in her stall. Always sucking on your elbow or your jacket or your arm.
She came into heat when she was still quite young and she started trying to jump you every time you stepped near the stall.
I spent most of my time telling her what-for.
Then one day I went out to the barn and found her loose and in the bull’s stall. “Oh, crap,” I told my husband, “she probably got bred early.”
Sure enough, a couple months later she began to show.
We thought about selling her but knew we’d probably lose money on the skinny twit.
That winter we sold most of cows, except her. We were afraid she was too small to calf and would need medical intervention.
Turns out she was just as stubborn in labor as she was with bucket drinking. She calved one night while we were sleeping and was happily chewing her cud when we made it out to the barn.
In fact, freshening in was the best thing that ever happened to the insolent thing. She turned a corner and became the calmest, sweetest cow you ever did see.
She was our only cow milking then so I milked her by hand instead of dirtying the pipeline. It was picture perfect. The warm barn, the bucket of foaming milk. She would turn and nuzzle my shoulder lightly as if saying, “Thanks for milking me.” I felt extremely guilty for having disliked her so much and would give her extra handfuls of oats and a couple of the carrots I usually reserved for Donkey.
She’s still skinny but I haven’t been talked into selling her yet. And my lands, can that girl pump out the milk.
Winnie-the-Pooh says, “You never can tell with bees,” and as it turns out, the same is true for cows.
We’re celebrating the upcoming release of my newest book,
The Thing About Dairy Farmers.
It will be available for purchase on December 2nd.
In the meantime, you can enter to win a pre-release ecopy by visiting the book page (just click here) and leaving a comment. (We’re giving a copy away every day this week!) And if you enjoyed this story, consider telling a friend? There are buttons at the bottom of this post for easy sharing.
Have you ever owned an animal that annoyed you? Tell me about it! 🙂