When Cow first came to us she was about a week old. She had several infected wounds in her neck from a cheetah attack, one in her left eye, and was too weak to stand up. Everyday I cleaned her wounds, fed her milk from a bottle and wiped her butt. In time, she grew stronger and moved up to two bottles of milk a day.
When she could walk again she roamed around the yard, munching on grass. She lost sight in the one eye and many patches of hair but she had quite a spirit. When she would hear the clink of the milk bottles she would come galloping in her off-kilter, uncoordinated way.
Suddenly, without explanation, Cow again lost her ability to walk. She kept losing hair and more and more of her appetite. I would pick her up and entice her to use her legs but it seemed she had no control over them. We’d move her in and out of the sun and rain, trying to keep her warm and alive.
Again, Cow pulled through. On her own she got back up and moving, I even found her swimming in the pool once. She moved up to four bottles of milk a day and was now four months old. I had to return to school in the States but she was fine without me. Soon, Cow stopped coming for milk and moved off the yard into the fields of grass.
These days she is the leader of the pack of the Goonie cows. All the cows who have been hand-raised, broken, blinded, or are somehow sick come to the field outside our house and graze with the others. A few months ago a bull had come in with a twisted ankle and spent some time with the pack. He was not as injured as he seemed.
This last season, Cow was deemed an adult and put with the bulls along with the main herd of cattle to begin the next year of calves. Only now are the rest of the cows showing signs of pregnancy, where Cow, we noticed, thanks to the sneaky bull, was almost ready to give birth.
Back at the house with her friends, we’ve been watching her for the last week, making sure she would not have trouble since it was her first time. Then, three days before my own birthday, this Saturday at quitting time we came home to a little calf.
We were only a few minutes late. The calf was standing already but quite wobbly and wet. The umbilical cord was still there and Cow was still gooey as well. I, a proud and dorky grandmother, teared up a bit watching her lick clean her new baby. We were unsure what kind of mother she would be having spent so little time with her own but her instincts are strong and her son is well taken care of.
I was saddened to find out that it was a male. On a cattle farm, males are the first to be sold. Only so many bulls are needed. However, if he grows up strong, I was assured he would become one of the few.