Lee Pitts: What’s That Smell?
March 17, 2015
I must be going crazy! The dairy boys are having a tough year and I've heard rumors about another whole herd dairy buyout. Quite frankly, who doesn't want to be paid for going out of business? So I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life: I bought some Holstein cows. Well, actually they were only half Holstein… and half crazy.
The auctioneer said they'd milk good, were bred to exotic beef bulls and they were cheap! Only $2,000 apiece! I can remember when I could buy four real cows for that.
After buying the Holsteins I immediately started acting funny. I have the urge to wear hip boots all the time, to rub bag balm on my hands and to get up at three thirty every morning.
Two days after I got the cows home the first one gave birth to "Squirt," so named for reasons that will become painfully obvious later. As we do every day during calving season, my wife checks the cows to see if there are any problems. When she got within binocular distance of Squirt and his mother, the paranoid calf raised its head, saw my wife, got frightened and took off. Much to our surprise, the cow could not have cared less about her runaway calf. It seems that motherhood is a lost art amongst Holsteins. The auctioneer failed to tell me that after generations of robbing them of their babies at birth, we have bred the maternal traits right out of these cows. Squirt's mother just wanted to hang around with her fellow Holsteins and talk about studly bulls, production records and heavy handed milkers.
Squirt ran through fences faster than a jackrabbit, which he very much resembled in appearance. Unfortunately, it was foggy that night and the calf was no where to be seen. So after a sleepless night I rose early, saddled up Gentleman and went to find the wayward calf. After searching for three hours I finally found Squirt about 75 miles from his last known address. Upon seeing me Squirt took off again but I grabbed my rope and prepared to throw a loop. Then I remembered that I can't rope. So I got off my trusty steed and took after that calf on a dead run.
I caught Squirt a half hour later and proceeded to sling him across my saddle like you see in all those Western pictures on greeting cards. It was then I discovered one thing that those Leaning Tree® cards don't portray. Less than five minutes into the ride Squirt literally did! All over my saddle, Gentleman and me. This had never happened to Gentleman before and he responded by depositing me and the calf on the ground and running back to the house to clean up.
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So I hogtied the calf, left him in a place I could remember and walked back to get the truck. Upon my return I made a fatal mistake. Instead of putting Squirt in the back of the truck I placed him on the floorboard for a more comfortable ride. Remember now that this is just a two day old calf. I was half way home when the calf loosened its ropes, jumped up on the seat with me and started butting his head against the window. Then from his rear mounted dispensing machine Squirt again lived up to his name. I now had a two toned interior and there were reminders of this episode deposited all over the dashboard, on the door handle, across the windows, my seatcovers, in the glove box and down the heater vents. I am reminded of this experience every time I turn on the heater.
I spent the remainder of the day scouring the inside of the truck, hosing off my horse, saddle soaping my saddle and reuniting Squirt with his mother, who seemed to vaguely remember him.
To this day I have to drive with the windows rolled down and even hitchhikers refuse to ride with me. Squirt is doing well no thanks to his mother and he no longer runs away at the sight of my horse. Instead, Gentleman runs away from the distinctive smell of Squirt. Meanwhile, I am barely holding on, waiting for the next buyout so I can get rid of these poor excuses for cows.