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A Christmas calf

It’s funny how you never know what may happen when you wake up in the morning –the unexpected turns and twists each day are usually what give us our stories, laughter and tears. Indeed, that is how a calf came to our farm two Sundays before Christmas. As we drove home from church we noticed a cow down in our neighbor's field. Sadly, it turned out the cow had died that morning despite the best efforts from the vet and had left behind a 3-day old calf. Our neighbor was out of town and asked if we could find the calf and bring him in. He had a blue tag with the number 208 on it. So after a quick change from heels to jeans and boots, we were on a mission. Scott found him curled up by the gate along the stone fence. Finding him was relatively easy. Getting him from the field to the barn was not. It turns out that a 3-day old calf still weighs close to 75lbs and is not easily moved - especially after being identified by someone that certainly was not his mother. After struggling to carry a bawling calf half-way across the field on his shoulders, I rescued Scott from getting any more fresh manure down his back by getting the Gator for transport. We settled him into a stall and tried to find a bottle to feed him. I had a bottle from our baby lambs and some calf milk-replacer. That was a laughable effort. Trying to feed a calf with a lamb bottle is like giving a thirsty elephant a bottle of Dasani. The best I could do was to squirt some liquid down his throat. So off the kids and I went to Southern States to get a calf bottle. I'm happy to report that worked as expected and the starving little guy greedily drank down the bottle. The following morning when our neighbor got home he came to check on calf #208 and we were so pleased to show that he was doing great. That was the moment #208 became ours. I’m guessing our neighbor didn’t really want to bottle feed a calf for the next 8 weeks and for some reason he suspected we might. I think he also knew how much keeping the little calf would delight our kids and their mother (i.e. me). And it did. He suggested that the calf be an exchange for helping him unload wagons of hay this past summer – a good farmer’s trade I suppose. And that is how a Christmas calf came to our farm. We can’t seem to decide what to name him. Clarence, Fred and Christopher have all been suggested. We do all agree that we’re enjoying having our first baby calf, as unexpected as it was.

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