Baxter Black: Remembering traumatic experiences, from birth to now |

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 rescued my horse and called for my good dog to help drive them in.”

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! ❖

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Baxter Black

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