The following story was written by one of my readers, Janet Swaby, from Unionville, Iowa. Janet, after reading the story I wrote about our bucket calf, Blossom, couldn’t resist telling me about their bucket calf, Lucky. And I couldn’t resist sharing Lucky’s story with you.
Don’t assume that the butcher shop is the only ending for a bucket calf. Our favorite bucket calf was Lucky. She was a “first twin.” Many times, when a cow has twins, she will only claim the second one born. (This is because cows initially identify their calves by smell, and the second one born has the most recent smell.) Our son, who was in high school at the time, found Lucky abandoned in the pasture and brought her home on his shoulders. He built a pen for Lucky next to my vegetable garden and trained her to a bottle.
Lucky thrived. When summer arrived, I’d come out to my garden to find that my Roma tomato plants had been eaten down—with a pile of green tomatoes lying on the ground. Lucky would eat the foliage and spit out the tomatoes. I guess the pen was built a little too close to the garden!
We eventually put Lucky in with the other dozen heifers we were keeping back for our herd. It was a big day when we brought home the bull we’d bought for those heifers. Those girls looked like they were at a junior high dance where just one boy had shown up. All the heifers clustered around the new bull to check him out, each hoping she’d be his “dance partner.” All except Lucky. She came over to our son to nuzzle him and see if he’d brought her an ear of corn. I’m not sure she knew she was a cow.
Lucky stayed in our herd for years. She was amazingly tame—more like a pony than a cow—and would let our grandkids ride her, something we’d never, ever try with any other cow!
Lucky with Rylin, Owen, Adalyn, and Brynlee Lucky would follow us anywhere, which made the other cows follow as well—-(something very handy to have when you’re trying to move the herd from one location to another.)
Lucky got over her shyness of The Bull and had a calf just about every year, including a number of sets of twins. Lucky never abandoned a twin, she was a terrific mother! We tried to keep Lucky’s heifer calves in the herd, hoping her genetics and wonderful disposition would carry on. We think they did. Our son just called, all excited. One of Lucky’s daughters, a first-calf heifer, had twins.
Some years ago, we decided that Lucky would die of old age on the farm—that we’d never cull her from the herd, whether she passed her pregnancy test or not. At last count, she was 18 years old.
When friends and family visit our farm, their most memorable experience is usually with Lucky.
Lucky died last week. Rest in peace old girl, in bovine heaven. Your memory lives on.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.