Baxter Black: Remembering traumatic experiences, from birth to now
Being born is a traumatic experience! I remember…no, I guess I don’t? It’s an amazing blessing that we can’t recall much about our first days of existence.
That thought occurred to me as I stared over the fence at the prettiest little heifer calf. She was red with a white face and black eyelashes. Her mama was a black bally and the previous owner says she’d been bred to a Simmental bull. Sure made a dandy calf.
The week before I’d gone out to move my cows to new grass. At my place, that is not as simple as opening a gate. It’s more like locking through the Panama Canal.
All the cows, save the aforementioned black bally herinafter referred to as SHE-WHO-BELLERS-THREATINGLY-AND-PAWS-THE-EARTH, were already through gate No. 1. I was riding Coyote, so I rode up to push her up to the others. She refused and it was then I noticed the new calf hidden in the burdock. Dry, but less than a day old, I figgered. Bluffing and dodging, SHE-WHO- had taken her calf down to the creek, waded across it and hid her in the weeds. She stood guard.
I spotted her. Coyote wouldn’t cross the creek so I rode back and forth, flapping my arms wildly. SHE-WHO- responded by pawing the mud. I dismounted, jumped the creek and tried to get near the calf. I’d taken my rope, so I slapped at the calf as SHE-WHO- formed a one-man ox ring around her baby.
Coyote spooked and ran back to the corral. The calf spooked and ran over the top of me right through my hot wire fence. I chased her afoot across the big pasture, finally turning her back toward the creek which she splashed across.
Then she raced up the hill, through a four-strand bob wire fence and ducked down instinctively in the tall grass. I arrived wheezing like a chronic lunger. I sneaked up on her and put the rope around her neck. She rose, bawling, and crawled back through the bob wire draggin’ me and 30 foot of rope.
I glanced back to see that SHE-WHO- had torn down my hot wire and joined us. I managed to tie the calf to a tree stump, with mother frothing about her. I rescued my horse and called for my good dog to help drive them in. I dallied up the calf and drug the little duffer, fighting all the way, through the corral into the next pasture. SHE-WHO- and the other cows followed as soon as my good dog quit helping me.
The little calf was covered with mud and dust. Even her nose was dirty. I reeled in my rope, dragging the calf up next to my stirrup so I could peel off the catch loop. SHE-WHO- got in one solid whack on my shin before she took her baby and trotted off.
A week later I’m watchin’ the calf suck. Her tail’s waggin’ and she’s getting noticeably bigger. She doesn’t remember a thing. But every time I get within fifty feet of her baby, SHE-WHO- wallers her head in the dirt and paws the ground. Wouldn’t surprise me if she’s packin’ a grudge! ❖