Bucket calf arrives on the farm – Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


Ginnie is becoming a farm girl!It was Easter Sunday (also April Fools Day). We walked into church and the first thing Ginnie and I heard from the door greeters was, “We have a calf for you!” (No, this was not an April Fools joke.)
Oh, boy! My day could not have been made any happier, and it was already happy because of Easter. The church was packed to overflowing. I had a hard time paying attention to the sermon because my mind was making preparations for the baby calf. What a gift of life on a special day !
At coffee hour, we met with the people who had the calf, farmer friends of ours. The calf was born the day before under a blue moon (the last blue moon until 2020). The mama cow had a bad leg and would have to be put down. A home was needed for the little black Angus heifer. We were glad to oblige.
We had a shelter and pen all ready. All we had to do was buy a nipple bucket and milk replacer from the farm supply store on our way to pick up the baby calf. How exciting!
Wouldn’t you know it. The farm supply store was closed for Easter. No problem. The farmer would keep the calf one more day, giving it more time to nurse and receive colostrum from its mother.
We took a peek at the calf. She was a beauty. What would we name her? Ginnie and I racked our brains. “Baby Calf”–no, too descriptive. “Ebony”–maybe. “Blossom”–that’s it! She will be our Easter Blossom! (Everyone says, “Don’t name it, or you won’t want to butcher it when the time comes.” Oops.)
Blossom needed a little encouragement at her first feeding from the nipple bucket. I backed her into a corner and straddled Blossom while Ginnie held the bucket. I pried Blossom’s mouth open with my fingers and Ginnie stuck the nipple in. It worked! Blossom was nursing before you could say, “Gee whillikers!” After a belly full of warm milk, Blossom danced around the pen and kicked up her heels. How cute! At the second feeding, she was up and waiting.
It seemed to be taking an awful long time for Blossom to suck down the two quarts of milk replacer. We solved the problem by reaming out the hole in the nipple. She now gulps milk down in nothing flat and nose bumps us for more, thinking we’re her mother. Eee gads!
Blossom goes nuts when all the milk is gone and cries for more. I can’t stand a hungry baby. However, there are all kinds of warnings about overfeeding a new calf. It was recommended that we get some high-grass content hay, and also put out a little dry calf starter, along with a bucket of water. Ok, so where do we get hay? We cannot possibly handle those huge round bales you see nowadays, and those smaller square bales are getting pretty tough to find. I put out an urgent request on social media. Presto, I had a name and phone number almost immediately. By noon that day, Blossom was sampling her sweet Iowa grass hay. Say what you want about social media, but the response from it can be amazing.
Ginnie and I immediately called our kids and grandkids to come and watch Grandma and Grandpa bucket feed Blossom. They stampeded out and displayed mixed emotions, from, “let me hold that bucket, Papa Swarm,” to trepidation. We’re building memories we hope will last a lifetime.
Ginnie and I couldn’t be happier. We’re living the dream!

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

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