We caravan-ed out the driveway in what I was beginning to think of as the Hilbert Cattle Emergency First Responders: Bill driving his farm truck pulling the stock trailer and me driving the mini-truck. The image would have been complete if we'd stuck our arms out the windows and slapped those flashing red Kojak lights on top of the vehicles!
Bill was concerned Sweet Pea would become even more upset if she saw the truck and trailer, so we left them parked on the side of the road and took the mini-truck to the pasture. Sweet Pea was lying down next to her dead calf, but with her head up. When she saw us approach, she bawled a warning, hauled herself up and stood in front of her calf, as if to protect it. I sadly wondered if she would ever again trust humans.
I parked the truck near Sweet Pea. Bill loaded the dead calf into the back, then directed me to drive to the catch pen. Sweet Pea followed, bellowing and tossing her head. When we arrived at the pen, Bill dragged the calf through the gate. Of course, Sweet Pea followed. We shut the pen gate.
We drove out of the pasture, closed the gate behind us and went back down the driveway to get the truck and trailer. I led the way back to the pasture, opened the gate for Bill, followed him through with the mini-truck, then closed the gate. Bill backed the trailer to the catch pen, opened the trailer gate, then the pen gate. He dragged the calf into the trailer and bolted out before Sweet Pea trampled him in her haste to get to her calf. We closed the trailer gate and headed home.
Once home, Bill unloaded Sweet Pea into the alleyway leading to the corral, then herded her into a pen in the barn. He drove around to the double doors, then dragged the dead calf into the barn near the pen where a furious Sweet Pea was bawling and kicking up dirt. Once again, he used his deer skinning knife to cut the hide off the calf, then cut holes for twine. He sent me to the house to mix up a little milk replacer appetizer for Trooper.
Bill grabbed a rope from his shop and we went to the other barn to get Trooper. We gave him a swig of milk replacer, Bill tied the rope loosely around his neck and we walked him into the barn. I straddled him, firmly grasped the rope in one hand and held the bottle with the other, while Bill draped the hide over his back and started tying it on with nylon twine. Sweet Pea closely observed this process through the pen gate and fussed her disapproval at us. She knew we were doing something with her calf and whatever it was, she didn't like it! Oh, if only she could comprehend what was happening.
Trooper drained the bottle and looked around impatiently for more food. Then he butted me in the crotch, not hard, but with just enough pressure that I suggested to Bill to please hurry the heck up! To keep the fidgety calf still, I bent over and put my arms around him while his new coat was fastened. In the absence of afterbirth to smear on the hide, Bill rubbed his hands over the skinned carcass, then quickly smeared the slime on the hide and over my bare arms. Hey, I’m not the adoptee here!
When Trooper was dressed in his slimy adoption coat, I opened the pen gate and Bill pushed him through. Sweet Pea sniffed him, looked him over and sniffed again. She took a test lick. At that point, we left to give them some quality bonding time. I fervently hoped Trooper would prefer his new mom over me and the bottle of milk replacer!
Bill went out half an hour later and Trooper was having supper while Sweet Pea licked his back. When Bill came in and told me about the successful adoption, I nearly cried again. Another hallelujah moment on the Hilbert farm!