Columnist

Laura Zoeller is a farm wife and mother who has been blessed with a wonderful – and funny - life.

I was at work when I got the call.

It was a lady I seldom get to speak to now that I’ve changed jobs, and who only actually calls me when she wants one thing. Unfortunately, I was unable to grab the phone, but she wasn’t swayed from her mission and texted me instead.

“I have a line on a couple of bottle-fed calves who need homes,” she said. “You willing to take them?”

She knows I am because we’ve done this before.

A couple years ago, during a terrible ice storm, I met her after work on the side of the road to pick up another one. I guess a farmer friend of hers has no patience to feed them, but prefers not to see them die so he gives them away when he gets them. We swapped it that day from her vehicle to mine.

Similar story, different day.

The conversation went something like this, “One calf is blind. OK, we’ve done that before. Will they both fit in my Subaru? They should, they’re only a few days old. I have one blanket; can I borrow another? Of course.”

We met again after work. This time, I followed her to the farm where they were living to see if we could fit them in my car. Also, this way, we avoided physical contact with one another, maintaining the social distancing recommendations of our government.

We briefly spoke to the farmer, who showed us to the calves. The blind one was big, probably about eighty pounds. I bent down and scooped him up –being the less energetic of the pair, it was recommended that I load him first– and carried him to the rear of my car. Being blind, he was not inclined to search out his surrounding once loaded. He laid, docile, and waited for his peppy friend.

My neighbor, with whom I have carpooled to work daily for quite some time, was waiting at the car and manned the door. The second calf was loaded, and we all air-high-fived and went on our respective ways. Just before I pulled away, I texted my daughter to ask her to meet me at the calf pen to help me get things set up when we arrived home.

The blind bull was mostly content to lay still in the cargo hold of my Subaru, but the peppy heifer was not. She stood, turned, jumped around, and on him, and even peed back there. My co-pilot could not stop laughing about the adventure we were on. I thought for one brief moment that she was going to laugh hard enough to give me a second spot to clean up.

Finally, we arrived home and loaded the calves into the straw-lined calf pen. I took my neighbor home and then went to prepare bottles with my daughter for the new arrivals. After a few weeks of monitoring their health and growth, we’ll halter break them and begin to stake them out on grass while continuing to bottle-feed them twice a day.

And when I am able, I’ll call the friend who gets me into these things and take her out for a cup of coffee. She’ll enjoy hearing the antics of the babies she set me up with this week.

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