My husband called me at work last week to tell me we have a calf with a lump on its face. He asked me to look up what it could be and how we should treat it. Of course, the Internet is filled with things that could cause a lump, from being kicked in the face to an abscessed tooth to a bovine disease that will eventually cause the teeth to fall out. It was quite an education I received.
We then looked at the calf together, since I had seen a wide array of pictures of lumpy-faced cattle online, with the hopes that I could help narrow down our problem. Since how the lump feels also makes a difference in diagnosis, we decided to try to catch the calf.
I say “catch” because, while our adult cows will let you walk right up and do virtually anything you want to do to them, our calves don’t really trust us yet. That is, other than Maisy and Daisy, twin nuisances, who follow us everywhere hoping for extra milk. If one of them needed checked over, it would be no big deal.
Alas, it was a different calf – a 120-pound bull calf – who has the lump. I decided to first try to sneak up on him and pin him down. My husband, who correctly asserted that this was a bad plan, hung slightly back, waiting to help me if I succeeded, and probably to laugh if I didn’t.
My coat sleeves swished against me and my boots slurped and splashed through the mud. I knew that whatever the lump was, it was not affecting the calf’s hearing, because I didn’t get within 10 feet of him using that method.
I then decided that maybe I could lasso him. My husband dutifully brought me a rope, shaking his head all the while. I kept it coiled in my left hand with the loop in my right. I walked as close as the calf would allow and then tossed the rope toward the calf. About five feet from the calf, the loop closed and the rope fell flat across the calf’s back. He skittered forward a few feet, as if unconcerned that I could successfully rope him from that distance.
I tried again. And again. And again. The last time I tried, I lost my balance and fell on my back. I lay there for a minute, waiting to see if I had pain anywhere, and listening for laughter from my husband. Just as I thought I could get up, two mother cows came over to me.
Want to feel small? Lie on your back while two 1,200-pound animals stand over top of you sniffing your face, knowing they could trample you with very little effort. You suddenly feel very petite.
I thought they were going to walk away when, suddenly, one bent down and licked me across the entire right side of my face. Holy sandpaper!
I jumped up, gathered my rope and what little dignity I had left, and walked past my husband, who was openly laughing by this time.
No, I still don’t know how my calf’s lump feels, but I have one to match on my hip. I guess we’ll wait it out together.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.