Rosie guarding Ernest


Ernest watching Rosie

THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH   January 10, 2012                5:30 AM

65.3 F  indoors            31 F  outdoors

Sunny again today – whoopee!

TODAY’S HAPPINESS FACTOR:  6 out of 10 Health is a big issue today – nagging at me, in fact

For three weeks I swore I wouldn’t but in the end I had to…the visitor we have right now is not what you would call “normal”, not even for us.  He’s staying down in the field, where he prefers to be at the moment.  Let me explain…

Each morning as I walk the lane to the barn I can look across the field to the farm directly in front of our west field.  A few weeks ago a Holstein calf (white and black) appeared right next to something that sticks up in the field (possibly related to the gas pipeline).  His loafing shed was a tiny building made with three pallets for the sides and something similar for the roof, and he was grazing.  The whole scene made me crazy. 

Since I’ve inherited almost every dog, puppy, cat or kitten they’ve ever brought home I wondered how long it would be before the poor calf got loose and wondered over to Blue Rock Station, as the other critters had done before him.  Even the neighbors make a joke that if they’re missing a critter, just go over to Annie’s – it will be there.

As I milked Tuti I was thinking that people do not necessarily change because they read a how-to book on the proper care of livestock, or how to be more ecological, or how to pare down their “stuff”.  It occurred to me that real change comes from some type of a shift deep in the soul.  I work on that issue daily, especially this month.

As my grandmother would say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  I think I’ve been on that road quite a few times in this life, but I want to have more then good intentions.  My neighbors have been on the road to hell with every animal they’ve collected.  Now there is this poor calf tethered to the pallet loafing shed and it is right in full view of my self-righteous animal self. 

On the weekend I could hear the neighbors using their chain saw, so while I was in the milk room I tried looking more closely at what they were doing – the nosy neighbor syndrome.  It turns out they were cutting down all of the trees along the road because, as they later told me, “One of these days” they are going to build a fence. 

At that point in the conversation I did the one thing I swore I wouldn’t do – I offered them the use of the llama lounge field for the calf.  They looked at each other for permission, bantered back and forth about what to do, and then I said, “I’d feel a lot better about it if he had a place to get in out of the weather and there is still grass for him to eat.”  They looked at each other, then at me and said, “OK”.

The llamas and goats were thrilled to watch this new fangled critter as it walked along the lane to the field.  The neighbor, Nate, says he found the bull calf when he was servicing oil wells as part of his job.  He said it was about three or four days old and just resting near a wellhead.  Later Nate said he had fed it milk replacement, but it looks so thin to me – he says it is because he’s a Holstein.  I say it’s because he hasn’t had one proper bit of food or treatment.

Yesterday was a big day for the dogs and for me.  The dogs barked at the bull calf to announce he didn’t quite belong there.  I’ve named him “Ernest” because he has such serious sad eyes.  After my morning chores I raked some of the hay the goats waste and took it down to make Earnest a hay pad to give him a cushion from the damp ground.  He did “moo” at me a few times, and tried to touch noses with Rosie through the fence. 

He needs a real home – Nate wants to sell him, but Ernest isn’t castrated yet.  What will become of him?  I can’t imagine, and I guess I don’t want to.  Livestock, in general, have a hard life in this country.

As I walked back from the Llama Lounge field I noticed that the pussy willows have set their catkins.  There are a few little white fluffy bunny tails poking up at the top of the highest branches.  It seems like they are a whole month early.  Early pussy willows, a bull in the field, sunshine four days in a row – what’s the world coming to?

Fresh fruit cut up with cottage cheese
Omelettes with veggies
Potato Soup