Sounder Sounds and Tiny Teats

The calves are a week and a day old. Their left over umbilical attachment is only now drying completely and coming off. It’ll leave a small, open wound and we keep them dry in the barn. Outside, the barn lot is a sloppy mess. The cows and us their hominid disciples, trod slowly through the routine making sucking sounds as with boots and hooves, moving cows here and there: nursing, milking, giving a little feed.

Belle, sweet Belle, is three-quartered. Poor thing, hope it doesn’t cause her discomfort. She is the best mother and can hardly stand to leave her calf. And she’s a good nurse calf, taking whoever she’s given. We had our steer calf born in February on her after she gave birth trying to work out the kink in that last quarter. That calf can push it and pull it harder than we can. But he wasn’t able to get it going.

Poppy is tall and with tiny teats. Her back two teats are ridiculous, like cat’s teats and you have to milk with just a thumb and index finger for these short, little squirts. And she’s got a lot of milk. It is an exercise in determination to fill the bucket with her and it has to be filled.

We milk Opal last and coming to a cow with good size teats, all four fingers resting comfortably on a fat teat, it’s a pleasure I tell you. It takes me almost an hour with all the back and forth to milk the three cows and go through the routine. My wife, of course, she’s amazing. She’s back inside washing her hands and off to take some milk to Annabelle the pig in the woods after 20 minutes or so.

Today or tomorrow will move the milk cows to the south pasture. The grass is up to my belly there and the calves have their own shelter and pen with bedding of clover. Everyone will like the change. No more slogging through the mud.

Our yorkshire and blue-butt pigs’ll go to new ground soon too. I’m working on putting up a new paddock west of where Annabelle is, in a shady spot next to the sugar bush. Annabelle and the big pigs can grunt back and forth at each-other and have their reassuring pig conversations. Sounder sounds.

My pleasure and entertainment now-a-days is walking in loops around the wetland plantings, the wild orchard, and seeing what grafts have taken, what buds are breaking. So far, my success rate look pretty near perfect. I had a bird land on one of my mulberry grafts but even that I think will come through as I taped it up with a support stick and a new place for birds to land. The apples were slower to break dormancy than I remember.

When the chores were done yesterday and after we’d taken our entertainment walk, me looking at grafts and the kids looking at tadpoles and crawdads, we played basketball at the top of the gravel driveway in a flat spot, the same place we drive over huge black walnut piles with the vehicles. My father recently gifted us a kid’s basketball goal, not quite full size, that stands straight, its base filled with water. It is working well and we’re enjoying it, me playing mainly at the very end of the day. And so it was yesterday, playing “pig” and shooting around. Somehow I got the song, “who put the bop in the bop she bop she bop” in my head. So I was singing. That was our melody to shoot around to, our theme music if you will. Indiana spring evening. Chores done, shooting hoops. Singing 50’s tunes. Swish.

(Who Put The Bomp – Barry Mann)


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