It was a cold Christmas morning. It was so frosty that it looked like a light covering of snow. We were living in the Spanish Pyrenees. The bipeds decided to take a stroll after breakfast and, of course, I was delighted to accompany them. We wandered down the track behind the house. When we reached a bend in the track where you can see out across the valley, we paused for the bipeds to appreciate the view.
The female biped asked, “What is that? It looks like an animal.”
She was pointing down to where a smaller track leaves the main track and leads to a pasture.
The male biped replied, “It’s too far away to tell. We’ll have a look when we get down there.”
When we reached the smaller track we turned onto it. We hadn’t gone far along it when we saw a very young calf on the ground with his legs tucked underneath him.
The male biped said, “I’ll take a look at him.”
The female replied, “Okay, I’ll keep Clowie at a distance so that we don’t scare him too much.”
I don’t know why they think I’m scary and they’re not! The male biped approached the calf, he bent down and looked him over.
He said, “I can’t see any injuries but I don’t know how to help him.”
The female replied, “I think you should move away from him while we talk. His mum is getting agitated.”
I had communicated this to the female by nudging her and looking pointedly at the cow in question. I was glad she had understood, as I hadn’t wanted to bark. The male biped turned to look and saw a cow pawing the ground and eyeing him over the fence about fifty yards away. He got to his feet and walked back to join us.
He said, “That fence doesn’t look very strong, does it?”
The bipeds decided to call the people who owned the pasture to see if they had the telephone number for the man who was grazing his cows there. They did and so the bipeds rang him. He said it would take him about half an hour to arrive. He was very worried about the calf being on his own. My bipeds said that we would wait with the calf till he arrived.
The female biped looked for a comfortable rock to sit on and the male biped decided to walk around the outside of the pasture. He wanted to check for a gap in the fence and see if there were any other strays nearby. I stayed with the female biped and the calf. I had a good vantage point, enabling me to supervise proceedings.
The male biped returned after about five minutes. He hadn’t seen any other strays and he couldn’t see a gap in the fence. He sat with us and waited for the cowman – that’s what the bipeds called him. I think “lord of the flies” would be a better name because of the cloud of flies that followed him and his dogs.
When the cowman arrived, I was very pleased that he left his three dogs in his van. I bear them no ill will for always being aggressive towards me as I understand their concerns – if I had a herd of cows to protect, I would make sure all other dogs kept their distance!
The cowman thanked my bipeds for waiting and he hurried towards the calf. He checked him over.
He said, “He seems to be okay. I need to get him on his feet.”
He looked at the male biped and asked, “Would you help me?”
The male biped replied, “Gladly, but one of the cows was very agitated when I was near the calf.”
The cowman asked, “The one watching us over the fence?”
The male biped said, “Yes, his mother?”
The cowman replied, “Yes, she’ll be fine now I’m here.”
The male biped moved towards him and said, “Tell me what to do.”
The cowman bent down and put his hands under the calf’s haunches and heaved his rear end up. The calf’s bum swayed from side to side until the cowman managed to steady him.
Then the cowman said, “Put your forearm under him, just in front of his legs. Take most of his weight and keep him steady.”
The male biped did as he was asked.
The cowman said, “Okay, now you’ve got him, I’ll get his front end up.”
He slid his hands under the calf’s chest and pulled him up.
He said, “We’ll hold him like this for a minute or so and let him get the feeling back in his legs.”
It wasn’t long before he instructed the male biped to gradually let the calf take his own weight and just help him to balance. Then he instructed the male biped to remove his arm. The rear end of the calf wobbled a bit at first. When the calf was steady, the cowman released the front end.
The calf did a brief impression of Bambi on ice, before getting control of his legs and trotting across to his mother. The cowman hurried over and opened the gate for him to join her. She was ecstatic! She licked him and nudged him till we thought she’d knock the little fellow off his feet! The cowman was grinning from ear to ear.
After a few minutes he said, “The calf needs to feed. I’ll be back in a minute.”
He let himself through the gate and moved towards the cow and calf. He hadn’t taken many steps when we saw the cow had nudged the calf into position to feed and the calf seemed quite enthusiastic about getting a meal.
The cowman watched them for a few minutes then he turned back and said, “She was way ahead of me – she’s a good mother.”
The cowman came across and thanked my bipeds for all their help. He said he’d be keeping a close eye on the calf for the rest of the day, but he was certain he would be fine. The calf was only three days old.
The cowman had counted the herd and no others were missing. The male biped said he hadn’t seen a gap in the fence and the cowman said there must be a loose section. The bipeds told him to call if he needed any help with the fence. We hadn’t gone many steps when the cowman called to us to wait.
We turned back and saw the cowman grabbing a large, empty water container from his van. He went into the field and approached one of the other cows. He bent down and started milking her. It didn’t take him long to half fill the container and bring it over to the bipeds. I had never seen milk straight from the cow before, it was a soft caramel colour. He gave my bipeds instructions on how to heat the milk slowly and gently, till it goes solid.
My bipeds thanked him and he thanked them again. He said that he would keep his dogs in the van until we had rounded the first bend in the track so that they wouldn’t give me any hassle, which I was pleased to hear.
We had expected a quiet walk, but it had turned out to be quite an eventful morning!
See you next year!