The back of my hand is black and blue. I am bucket feeding our recently orphaned calf and his way of thanking me for all the time I am putting in to make sure he gets his twice daily slurp of milk replacement, is to head butt my hand against the side of his bucket.
The theory is that soon he will be able to drink out of the bucket unaided.
At the moment however you employ the deceit of getting the calf to suck on your fingers and then, by immersing your hand in the milk, the theory is that eventually he will guzzle all his milk on his own
Actually it is working well but every time I tried to withdraw my fingers so that he drank unaided, this little calf got very anxious and started pushing at the pen bars to try and get to me.
It is a long time since I had a calf to rear. When we had a milking herd the calves were taken away from their Mums soon after birth and one of my regular jobs then was helping to rear the calves.
We had stables full of little ones on the bucket.
Now this calf is in solitary splendour in a corner of the barn.
That was very nearly its downfall. I was concerned today that it had caught a chill.
Yesterday had been warm, the night frosty. This morning the calf was ruckly and none too keen on his milk.
With John away for a few days fishing in Scotland and Geoff, his brother, coming in to look after the herd and keep an eye on the sheep, I was a worried woman.
Add to that I had somehow misplaced my watch and jewellery that John has bought me over the years.
I could remember putting them in a safe place before I went swimming one morning... but which safe place?
And why had I suddenly changed my pattern of keeping my watch etc in a secure locker at the health club, to pop it somewhere I knew not where.
Well the good thing was I cleared out several bags of rubbish whilst I went through all the places I thought I might have put my treasures.
When I eventually located everything in a box of Dora the Explorer plasters... no I don’t know why they were in there either...I was just about in tatters.
Then as the feeling of relief washed over me at not having to explain to John why I had lost everything, I heard an exasperated bawling coming from the yard.
Earlier Geoff had given the calf a minute jab of antibiotics to try to stop pneumonia in its tracks. It had worked.
Quickly I mixed up a bucket of milk. Even faster the calf drank it down.
Although it still bashed the back of my hand into pulp, I did not care. Everything had turned out well, but I don’t think I’ll mention it all to John.
Might spoil the fishing trip.