12 September, 2012 by talungatales
Cows are social animals. The have an incredible social system whereby a cow is delegated to baby sit while the others go off to graze. Something we as humans used to do when we lived in villages. I don’t know how they manage to “pull straws” or work out whose turn it is, but however they do it, they do so with little argument.
I love this particular photo which I took last season. Mother and calf. An innocent little baby, vulnerable and ever so cute!
Note: If you think they’re cute you’d better stop reading now … this story is going to get ugly.
About 6 years ago my OH managed to get himself a bit of a reputation throughout the district for being a ‘Goliath’. Our garden was suffering badly from an outbreak of bovine aphidus (otherwise known as ‘calves sucking up garden plants like aphids’). These horrors would mercilessly go through our fences and help themselves to our newly planted and tended veggie patch, raspberry plants and rose gardens. There were only a few places where they could get through the fences and eventually the OH found time to repair the electric fencing in those areas.
He took great delight in watching the calves ‘test’ the fence several times (confirmation that they are brainless after all) and thought he had them ‘fixed’. The next morning however he discovered one squeezing through the bars of the steel yard. Thinking on his feet, he figured that throwing a stone at the rear end of the offender might chase him off. That’s where things went pear-shaped! The calf had spun around just as the stone was let go and it connected right between the eyes.
I was in the kitchen at the time. A very pale-faced OH ran in through the door panting, he’d run up from the yards.
“What’s the butcher’s number?” he said, sounding quite angry and frustrated.
“bloody calves are getting through the fence again”.
“Oh don’t be silly.”
“Nooooo, I need the butchers number. I threw a stone and the calf’s down”.
“What do you mean it’s down?” All I could think was, not another vet bill! “Down lame, down unconscious, down dead?”
“I dunno! It’s not moving”,
“Well you’d better go back and check for a pulse then!”
Once a very stunned OH realised that the fallen calf was not getting up and that there was no pulse, he rather sheepishly phoned the local mobile butcher. We’d seen Mr H only two weeks earlier when we’d had a beast slaughtered to fill the freezer. He was now going to have to come out, on a Sunday, to prep our next freezer load! Where were we going to put it all? After hearing the story, the butcher laughed all the way from his house till when he went home. His son couldn’t believe the story either, so he came with him.
Apparently the stone had hit only a quarter of an inch from where Mr H would normally shoot a beast – a total fluke. We spent the next week giving away dog bones from our previous lot of beef to make way for this freezer full of veal.
On the Monday night we found out that the story of “Mr A the calf slayer” had circulated far and wide throughout the community. We suspect that it was either the butcher who had said something, or one of the many people the OH phoned on the Sunday when searching for an available cool room! The story circulating was that if you want to save yourself 2c on a bullet, just call ‘you know who’, or the volunteer fire brigade (where he’s a member)! We only found out because we had a meeting at the local pub that night. The publican made a point of insisting that all weapons including ‘stones’ be left outside. There was much “raucous laughter” as we entered. There’s no keeping a secret in the country.
Our young sproutling (aka the son) learnt the biggest lesson. He reckons that the real moral is “don’t throw stones … and behave or you’ll end up dead meat … just like the calf!”