A Bottle Calf Story, Part 2

I’ll give you a quarter if you can guess what happened approximately two weeks after I posted “Farmer Friday: A Bottle Calf Story”.

Yep. We got another bottle calf. (My change jar is on the counter, help yourself.)

We adopted the poor little boy because, much like our first bottle calf, he was born on a miserable spring day and was wet and cold. Unlike Ceffie, though, this new fella was blind.

Or partially blind, anyways. We’re still not sure what caused it, but the first week or two of the calf’s life was spent bumping into the walls of the barn and releasing grunts of frustration when we had to guide his head to the bottle in order to eat. His big brown eyes were wonky and unfocused, and he jumped at the slightest sounds.

My niece yelled "Ceffie! C'mere!" about 15 times. He didn't come. Her chubby fists banging on the gate didn't do much convincing, either.
My niece yelled “Ceffie! C’mere!” about 15 times. He didn’t come. Her chubby fists banging on the gate didn’t do much convincing, either.

For some reason or another, Blackie (I know, original, right?) gained a little vision back. Whenever I make my way down to the barn toting an over-sized bottle, Blackie scrambles up as fast as his thin legs will allow. He has his head stuck through the fence, searching for the milk, before I even get there.

He drinks two quarts of warm milk replacement, morning and night. Making his bottle is similar to fixing formula bottles for a baby, except his “formula” comes out of a dusty sack in our basement. The milk powder smells like sweet chalk, and by the time I get 8 ounces of the stuff measured out, there is a fine coat of powder all over my clothes. (I’m clearly not a very skilled farm girl yet.) Then I have to fill the bottle with warm water, and shake the crap out of it. And then shake the crap out of it again. And again.

When the bottle is all ready, I put on my boots (to protect my Town Girl feet from poo, spit, and various other bodily fluids) and make the trek down to the barn. Blackie is extremely excited to see me, as always. He sucks down the first part of his meal until the bottle collapses; I pull it away from him, forcing him to take a breath, and he stomps his little hooves in frustration. I give it back to him, and he finishes the rest of it even faster, if that’s possible; the milk creates a foam around his mouth that makes Blackie look a little manic. I pull the bottle away, empty this time, and he lets out a disgruntled snort that I think roughly translates to, “But I’m still hungry!”

blackie drinking

Blackie is slowly being started onto dry feed, which hangs in a feeder bottle tied to a fence post. He crunches on it warily, still much fonder of his milk. Soon, he’ll have to eat that stuff for every meal, but for now he’s still our baby bottle calf.


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