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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Lola the escape artist

We’re gettin’ older, that is for sure. My doctor put me on B12 shots once a month because my body isn’t absorbing vitamins properly. I guess I could have been eating French fries for lunch every day instead of trying to eat healthy, for all the effect it had. The Farmer follows the male tradition of not consuming anything but coffee until noon. If he is working outside, he doesn’t eat lunch on time either. And he seems to think if you drink water you will only get thirstier. I would like him to live to a ripe old age, so I normally whisk down to the kitchen and whip him up a breakfast sandwich before he heads out to the barn on weekends. Weekdays, however, are a different story. I couldn’t get him to eat anything before leaving for the office.
Then we started watching Downton Abbey. “I wouldn’t mind breakfast in bed,” he announced one day. So I toasted him some special sourdough raisin bread that a friend found for us and instead of spreading it with English marmalade, slathered it with crunchy peanut butter, for protein. The first day, he ate two slices. The second, just one. By the third day our bed was so full of toast crumbs I put a kybosh on the whole campaign. What was I thinking?
The final three cows finally had their babes, one right after the other. The Farmer put one set in the barn and then took off on a real estate journey to Peterborough, without informing me.
I went out to the barnyard in the morning and counted twelve head of cattle. That’s what we have. Eleven cows and one bull. I thought it a bit strange that the Farmer had decided to let the most recent mother out with the general population so soon after giving birth. Normally we lock them up in the stable for close to a week while they bond with their young. I counted the babies and only found seven. We had seven the week before. Where was the new number eight? I gave up and waited a few hours. Went back out in the afternoon. Again, only seven calves could be found. They napped together in a puddle of fur beside the stone fence, a cow kindergarten watched over by one mother while the rest of the cattle grazed.  I started to worry about the missing calf. As the sun went down I walked the perimeter of the pasture, looking for a newborn calf tucked into the thorn bushes. Nothing.
Finally the Farmer came home. “The new calf is in the barn, of course,” he said calmly. “Well its mother is outside!” I announced. The poor baby had been locked up all day without anything to eat or drink. Lola, an apparent escape artist, was new at this whole child-rearing thing and decided she would rather be out in the meadow with her crew than locked up with her young.
The Farmer opened the door to the barn and the new mama walked back in, defeated. The next day, she broke out again. Again, the door swung shut behind her, locking her calf in. On the third day, the Farmer put an iron gate across the door for additional reinforcement. By sunset she had it shoved to the side and had escaped once again.
Then another cow gave birth. At last Lola had company in the barn and for the last few days of her lock-up, she stayed put.
The bull has proven his mettle. Earned his bull badge. He impregnated all eleven cows. Not his fault that one calf was too big and died in childbirth. We have ten beautiful, healthy calves, most of them male. Only one or two of them needed selenium to help them with the suckling instinct. None of them needed to be bottle fed. It’s been quite a success.

The Farmer is celebrating the good season by spending hours every day on his tractor, pulling his new red manure spreader over his fields. By the end of each day his clothing is so rank he has to peel it off and leave it on the porch because I won’t allow it in the house unless it’s going straight into the washer. Come to think of it, maybe those weren’t all toast crumbs in the bed. I am going to look into installing an outdoor shower. 

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