I’ve been thinking of things I wanted to do with our blog here, and I’ve decided that on some Fridays I’m going to dedicate a post to some of our absolutely most hysterical moments over the last few years. It’s not always been an easy ride, we’ve had plenty of highs and lows to be sure. We’ve done our share of the toil and tears, but what keeps us going is the times when things just take such a completely absurd detour that someone begins to laugh, and it’s contagious, and the next thing you know everyone is in total stitches. It’s a learning process, and sometimes not just for us. We have also made a LOT of mistakes…which usually end up in comedic fashion.
So we buy bottle calves. The bull calves that are culled by the dairy farms, sometimes within hours of birth and sent off to auction. This can be a dicey proposition. You really have to dig in and fight them, some simply do not want to live. If we’re lucky enough to see them through the initial rough patch, it can be a really rewarding feeling. We band them, raise them to feeder weight, and usually sell them to a farmstead or family that wants to raise a beef steer.
We’ve bought anywhere from one to as many as a dozen at a time. If you’re feeding one bawling beefy beast a bottle 4 times a day, it’s just as easy to feed multiple ones. However, they usually come with what’s called “scours”. I don’t know how they came up with that name, other than it’s what you feel you have to do to your clothing and any exposed skin after handling a calf with scours. Scours, if you don’t know…well, do yourself a favor and don’t google it, ok?
I’ll put it this way. Scours causes everything in every single one of a calf’s four stomachs to be ejected violently, at high speed, and in any one of a dozen colors from a calf’s rear end. As fast as you put in the other end. Messy, smelly and inconvenient in the cold weather months. In the summer, you have the added nightmare of insects.
It’s a simple concept, really. Poop stinks. Calves do not use Charmin. Flies are attracted to stinky things. Like poopy calf rumps. Mother flies apparently are prone to thinking this is a spectacular place for an insect obstetrics unit, and Shazam! Next thing you know…well…you’re in a position like we were a couple of summers ago.
To understand why we might find this amusing, you must first understand that my other half’s Dad is a very particular man. Everything about him is usually immaculate. His sleek burgundy luxury sedan pulls up in the driveway, and out climbs a very well put together gentleman wearing lovely slacks, dress shirts, and beautiful shiny loafers. He is usually singularly focused, moving at a surprisingly good clip in search of his son to discuss whatever’s brought him to the driveway. He’s very gentlemanly and polite to a fault.
This day was no exception…like a senior citizen shaped missile he fast tracked to the barn and made a beeline for us. It’s June. It’s 100 degrees in the shade, we’re standing by the barn door with 50 foot of hose and a brush. Clad in sweaty muck boots and elbow length playtex gloves, with an arsenal of potions and sprays and a wet, reeking, supremely pissed off holstein bull calf bawling loudly on a lead line.
Since the business end of the operation was pointing out the back barn door, I really don’t think he had any warning what exactly he was walking into. He knows from experience to walk carefully in the barn, I think he was paying such close attention to his travel path maybe he didn’t add it all up. Or focused solely on his objective. He stopped about 5 feet from us.
“Helllloooo! How’s everybody doing today? T, I was thinking about something and I figured I would stop and run it by you.”
“Ok, Dad…well, we’re a little tied up here just at the moment…Can you give me a few minutes?”
So, at this point, we’re dripping sweat by the bucketful, this is like the third calf in an hour, bath time is NOT a hit with our baby bulls at all. They don’t want to be wet, they want milk. You’re at the wrong end. It’s a wrestling match of epic proportions and you’re trying to avoid being coated in liquefied calf crap. And maggots.
As he watched, his nose began to wrinkle a little. He took a step back.
“So, uhhh…what are you doing there, Lisa? Washing them up?”
Eyes down. Boy, this is awkward. I’ve never had someone watch me de-maggotize a calf with severe swamp ass before. Does he not see the river of churning fly babies floating out the door? Tony and I were looking at each other and trying to decide whether to be stupidly uncomfortable, and trying so very hard not to burst into tears or laughter or a ridiculous combination of the two. This is just not a good time. We’re struggling and wrestling and washing and chasing calf rump.
“Yessir…they have been a little sick, needed a bath.”
And then it happened. Politeness took over and he did it. The well dressed gentleman standing a few feet away from the most grotesque scene ever and apparently still oblivious to the reality of the task at hand said “Do you all need some help? Anything I can do?”
It was at this point time stopped. We stopped. Everything stopped. The calf stopped fighting. Even he seemed flabbergasted. And he stopped with the overpopulated tail end toward our would-be helper.
His eyes widened. His nostrils flared a little. His face began to turn a peculiar shade and you could tell the horrific reality of what he’s just volunteered for has now struck him. I looked at Tony. I looked at his Dad’s cream colored slacks and shiny loafers and tried hard to stop the laughter bubbling up.
“Uh, no, Dad…I think we’re good here. I don’t think this is something you want to get into today.”
“Oh, my. Uh…yes, you’re probably right. You know, you all look a little busy. Maybe I’ll stop back later, or call, or something….”
His voice trailed off and he turned around to flee the scene. He called a goodbye over his shoulder and made a hasty retreat. T and I are looking at each other and realizing just how incredibly, horrifically ridiculous we looked, we’re a total hot mess.
I couldn’t help myself. “I love your Dad, but I gotta say, for just a minute, I wanted to hand him a pair of gloves.” I giggled…I couldn’t help it anymore. Tony’s face completely cracked and we both just lost it. We’re filthy and we smell and we look totally absurd and there are rivers of crap and maggots everywhere. And we’re laughing so hard we’re literally crying.
His Dad’s a lot more careful about volunteering now.