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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Baby Bull Knocked Me Out—kind of

One time in Wisconsin, we were at Uncle Verle's farm while he was having trouble with one of his calves, a baby bull. The calf refused to be weaned and kept suckling milk from his mom when they were in the pasture or barnyard. Apparently dairymen come out ahead feeding the calf and selling the milk that would otherwise go to the calf. Thus, the baby bull was stealing from Verle and Irene's income. Verle had tried coating mama cow's teats with something not tasty, but that did not work. He had tried a couple of other things that I do not remember. There was a device, a kind of shield, that can hang from a ring in the calves nose and make it virtually impossible to suckle. Verle did not have one on hand, and he was frustrated. He wanted to improvise something then and there. As we watched, as I watched utterly transfixed he put a loop of chain on a ring that he did have and inserted it (ouch!) in the calf's nose. Of course, my sympathies were with the calf, especially when I saw the procedure and heard him cry.

We were in the barnyard, near the barn. When all was done and Verle and the cadre of witnessing adults (including my parents) began to walk up the small hill to the gate leading to the house, I remained transfixed. I went with the adults, but walke backward up the hill. Near the top, all of sudden everything went black (except, I think, for some stars). I found myself on my back on the ground. I had walked square into a thick wooden “telephone” pole that had a light for the barnyard and carried electrical wires for the barn. I don't think I lost consciousness, because I remember seeing all the adults respond to the thud of my head on pole. They looked over and burst into laughter. What an embarrassment! But, I think they did get me to smile after I got up and told them I was alright as I felt the goose-egg growing on the back of my head.

Later that day, or perhaps the next, we saw the calf suckling happily from his mother--the chain lapping off the side of his nose. If I remember right, Verle went out and bought the right device and installed it after we had gone. He refused to be outdone by a baby bull. By the time we went back to Wisconsin, that calf was no longer a calf. The young bull had been sold. The story was over, but I wished I had been there for its ending.

(c) from date of posting, by Bob Komives, Fort Collins 

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