Saturday, February 27, 2010

Down Memory Lane

A little girl and a calf: What's cuter than that?

Unless it's a little boy and his calf.

I can't decide. They are both darn cute.

A Corn Valley 4-Her came to the County Line yesterday and took home a new friend. Aubrey had been patiently waiting for a bull calf for her bucket calf project. I knew it was worth the wait when Aubrey squealed her little-girl squeal the minute she walked in the barn door and saw the calf's cute little face. Who could resist it?

I think she would have gladly taken home the calf's barn mate. Randy has been feeding another bucket calf - a twin - for several weeks now. Aubrey would have jumped at the discounted price Randy offered, but her dad wasn't convinced the calf needed a friend.

The bull calf, which was born just two days ago, doesn't have the bottle-feeding routine down, but its stall mate sure does. The minute you walk in the door, the heifer calf has her head poked through the gate, waiting to slurp a bottle. Fingers substitute just fine, as Aubrey found out.

It took me on a trip down Memory Lane. My kids both loved the bucket calf project. Jill's first calf was Runaway. It was named after a misadventure while Jill & her dad were breaking it to lead. Randy had told Jill not to let go of the lead rope - no matter what. Since it was our first experience with this, we didn't know that was going to involve Jill holding the rope as Runaway did what you'd expect with that name. Jill held on while Runaway dragged her along for the ride. Randy revised his instructions after that.

As you can see in the photo, Runaway also had his moments when he was difficult to budge. But, as Jill wrote in her 4-H book caption, "Runaway is stubborn. I am too."

And, when all else fails, we used the pickup to lead Runaway. Jill wrote: "Runaway HAD to follow when the pickup - not me - was pulling him." (And for all the safety police out there. Yes, that's my daughter in the back of the pickup while it's moving!)

And even with all that history, Jill still loved Runaway. There they were at the Stafford County Fair. (Jill is particularly proud of the shorts and boots fashion ensemble.)

Brent really started his bucket calf career before he was old enough for 4-H. He and Jill began their own cattle business and fed 5 or 6 calves. The photo below was in Brent's first 4-H record book. He labeled it himself (LOVE the little boy handwriting!) And look at Brent's gap-toothed grin. Ah, the memories!

Brent's first bucket calf was named Willie (for Willie the Wildcat, of course!) His second bucket calf (shown below) was Chief, named for his Kansas City Chiefs. Notice a theme here? It continued as the project continued. He had a Kelly and a Michael (named in honor of K-State football players, Jeff Kelly and Michael Bishop.)

Aubrey hadn't chosen a name yet. That is important work, as any parent or self-respecting bucket calf owner will tell you. But it appears that it was love at first sight as Aubrey settled the calf in the trailer for the ride to its new home.

Aubrey's brother, John, has gotten calves from us before. John's bucket calf from two years ago made a repeat appearance at last year's Stafford County Fair. John entered her and her first calf as a cow/calf pair. She was named Grand Champion female. Randy is hoping for the same great results from Aubrey and her new friend!

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