I wish that someone would tell those rascally calves. I know that they are young, so they don’t have much experience to go on, but it’s winter. The grass on the other side of the fence is just as brown as the grass on their side. It doesn’t matter. They keep busting out anyway.
My husband and I have chased these two calves down the edges of the road, to an open gate, at least ten times in the last four days. In the pasture, where the rest of their friends seem content to hang out, they have access to fresh hay and to calf pellets, delivered daily. There is a fine source of fresh water, so they are not thirsty. But, still these two roam and we can’t figure out their escape route or their reasons for escape.
It happened again this morning. The phone rang just as the sun came up. “Your two calves are in the road again,” a neighbor said. We pulled on clothes, coats and boots and fired up the truck. A mile away the calves trotted into a neighbor’s front yard and put down their heads to graze on dead grass. It must taste better than the dead grass on their side of the fence. It must. Otherwise, why would they insist on escape?
The calves have gotten used to our herding them back down the road. They aren’t scared of us anymore. They sashay, stopping to grab another bite of dead grass. They halt and consider the clouds racing across the sky. They pause to ponder, they stop to stare. Finally, they trot back through the gate and Joe and I walk the fence-line once again, looking for gaps. He hammers in a few loose staples and we study the grass looking for signs of escape. We should see footprints or bent grass, but we don’t so we go back to the house.
I have just placed a couple of pieces of bacon in the pan and turned up the heat when the phone rings. “Your calves are out in the road again,” the caller reports.
I have come to the conclusion that these calves are going through puberty. They are seeking to assert their independence. I’ve read that in Rio de Janeiro adolescent boys, and some girls, get their kicks by hopping on to the tops of speeding trains as they roll down the track. These thrill seekers stand, with arms outstretched- surfing, as the trains rumble down the mountain. Despite the fact that over 600 kids a year are killed or severely injured riding the rails this way, the young Brazilians continue to flirt with danger.
When I chase the calves down the road, back to the safety of their paddock, they exhibit this same “devil-may-care” attitude. They are not afraid of failure. My only consolation as I once again corral my boisterous beeves is the fact that my four-legged adolescents aren’t surfing the tops of trains for thrills. Maybe I can train them to hop on top of cattle trucks as they lumber by.
Then they could get their adrenaline fix and I wouldn’t have to pay to get them to market.