Blossom’s great escape

Blossom doesn’t particularly like her small pen. She runs from one end of the small enclosure to the other, kicking up her heels, letting us know that if she had a larger pasture, she would put it to good use. Sometime in the future I may expand her living area, but for now, it will have to do. After all, she is a butcher calf.

One of my insurance clients called. He had read my book and wanted a half-dozen copies to give to friends. How could he get them? Well, for half-a-dozen copies, we would deliver. The client lives by Big Hollow Recreation Area north of Burlington. It’s a pretty drive, if you take the back roads, so, after supper, Ginnie and I jumped in the car and headed in that direction.

I usually drive through the barnyard on the way out to check on the livestock. The chickens were busy scratching away before heading to the hen house for the night. And Blossom was … Blossom! Blossom was out! One of the gates to her pen was hanging lopsided and Blossom was nowhere to be seen.

Panicking, I drove out on the gravel road and scanned the adjacent corn and soybean fields. No Blossom. I pulled back into the main driveway and Ginnie shouted, “There she is!” Blossom was standing in the middle of our aronia bushes, seemingly confused as to where she was.

We slowly got out of the car, calling softly, “Here Blossom, good girl,” thinking she would come to our out-stretched fingers for a suck. She took off in the opposite direction, kicking up her heels in bold defiance. I shouted to Ginnie, “Go get the nipple bucket! She’ll come to that!” I stationed myself by the gravel road to keep her off it in case she headed in that direction. There was also the highway to worry about.

Blossom tore through the barnyard, made a circle around her little barn and pen, thoroughly enjoying her newfound freedom. Every time I tried to get close to her, she ran from me like I was the boogie man. (I think she remembered that when I’m in her pen, I carry a switch and spank her when she pesters me.)

Ginnie arrived with the nipple bucket. Blossom didn’t seem interested in it, but she did try to suckle the fingers of Ginnie’s outstretched hand. Slowly, very slowly, Ginnie, who had never herded a cow in her life, was able to lead Blossom back into her pen. I guess females communicate better with females. I lifted the gate back onto its hinges, and we had her.

Now, what to do with the gates? Blossom had knocked the gate off its hinges once before, when she was only three days old. She had stuck her head through the rails looking for the nipple bucket and lifted the gate clean off its hinges. My son had told me to turn the hinges upside down, but had I listened? Nope.

Something had to be done and done quickly to secure the gates, or Blossom would escape again. We would have to put off our book-delivering excursion for another night. I got some tools and went to work on the hinges while Ginnie kept Blossom occupied with the nipple bucket.

Reversing the hinges went faster than I anticipated. In 15 minutes, I had the hinges reversed on all three gates making them quite secure. We looked around to see what, if any, damage Blossom had done. Fortunately, she had stayed out of the garden.

We were able to make our book delivery on time. Ginnie is thankful she didn’t lose her wedding ring while letting Blossom suck her fingers. (I’d already lost mine.) Having gold in her stomach must’ve made Blossom a lot smarter, by golly. There’s never a dull moment on the Empty Nest Farm.

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Contact Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526 or curtswarm@yahoo.com