A Calf Named Moo
By: Seneca Oleyte
Mahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” would be the beautiful sound of my alarm clock. Not a rooster crowing, not a bird chirping, but a cow, named Moo, mooing. Getting up at six a.m. every morning to feed a baby calf may not be the most frustrating task on earth, but an awkward one indeed if right in the backyard of a rural town. Abandoned at birth, a little brown piece of bottlefed Angus beef came under my and my mother’s watchful care. This impromptu adoption gave us a responsibility like no other.
So here is how it all started. One rainy day after school, I finished my homework and drove the 50 miles back home. As I entered the yard, my entire body halted in utter shock. “Mom, why is there a cow in my backyard?” I fearfully asked. She then explained how this weak and hungry calf was found abandoned in an area near my uncle’s pasture, with no mother in sight. My uncle had stopped by with her sitting in the front of his pickup truck, and at just two days old, this calf was extremely malnourished. “As soon as she looked at me, her eyes told me to please take care of her,” my mom recalled.
My mother’s nurturing instincts took over, and from that point on she was determined to raise that cow to good health. Within a week, Moo could finally drink a simple bottle of milk. As more weeks passed, a bottle of milk turned into four bottles in the morning, and four in the evening. So much milk was being consumed, even the local farm supply shop were sick and tired of seeing us.
Another factor of Moo’s “customized” meal plan was Cheetos. She went mad-cow-crazy for those orange puffy pieces of cheesy goodness. After a bag or two, that cow’s mouth was as orange as a carrot. As she began to grow, Moo went on to discover one of the most important fundamentals of childhood: “Play.” Then one day when she wanted an extra Cheeto, she ‘playfully’ bucked my mother to the ground. More bucking and kicking went on, until we finally faced the fact that Moo was no longer a baby.
It may seem all fun and games to some, but having a cow in your backyard is not the most glamorous experience on earth; that “smell” that had to be cleaned up every so often was a huge appetite suppressant for us and the surrounding neighbors. Also, if we didn’t wake up before the cow, by six a.m. every morning Moo would have already woken up the entire town. Every time that baritone-pitched moo sounded, my nerves shattered and I was afraid someone was going to call the cops.
Raising farm animals in a rural town may not have given us the good-neighbor-of-the-year award, but Moo was no ordinary bovine. She had a personality that could touch the heart of a scrooge. Anyone who met Moo could instantly feel the warmth of her character. She would greet, rub her head, and listen to anyone. If anybody sat on the ground near her, she would bow down and lay right beside them. It’s astonishing but true: she could pass for an oversized lap-dog.
Then the sad reality of “letting-go-the-ropes” came about. At the age of five months, Moo was now well nourished and in excellent health. It was time for her to move into a pasture up a nearby mountain. She was now too big for the yard, and we could see how she craved the wide open spaces, where she could run free. But when Moo first got to the pasture, she cried, and she cried, and then my mother cried. Moo didn’t want to let go. We then drove away and Moo cried even louder. It took weeks for all three of us to overcome this separation anxiety.
Thankfully, the herd in the pasture has gracefully adopted her, and they taught Moo the basics of being a full-blown cow. She was treated as if she were one of their own. Our most rewarding experience was finally seeing that cow graze just like the rest. What was truly reassuring is that Moo did not forget her first human herd. Whenever we visit, she runs to us and still greets, rubs, and listens to us as she always did.
Back home was a different story, as it took us a while to get used to Moo’s absence. Going outside and no longer hearing a “Maaaaaaaaaaah” or a “Moooo” was extremely awkward. Not to mention, that “smell” was no longer there, although our grass was much greener. Thinking back, I’ve realized I actually liked how that cow made things harder on us. Moo reminded me and my mom that Life will hand you a huge pile of cow-pie every now and then, but you just have to clean it up, and take it as it comes. Hard work pays everyone, and if you work hard enough, you will earn your spot in the wide open pasture.