What was supposed to start out a casual trip into the deep-dark, thistley woods turned into one of the best days of my life. Not only did I find what I was looking for, but I accomplished something I never could have imagined doing.
I was off work early today, so I thought, “Hmm. I think I will go down into the woods to see if any morel mushrooms have finally decided to pop up from under the thick cover of last years leaves.
I was getting a bit discouraged until I came upon our hot spot from last year. There were cute, adorable, little, gray mushrooms popping up all over.
Being that everyone else on the farm was busy – Joey was at the golf course being the assistant coach to the boys’ team and Stevie was at his monthly AMPI corporate board meeting – I had to do a little taunting as soon as I found the delicacy. I immediately took out my phone, and snapped pictures of the cute little hummer and sent it in a group text to Stevie, Joe and Russ.
What a beauty, huh?
Joe, being the avid mushroom hunter that he is, demanded to know how big it was.
I had since found several more, so I dug the largest one out of my mesh bag and lay it on the ground next to my thumb.
Yes, I have ginormous thumbs! In the end, I found enough delicious mushrooms for a family of four.
I continued meandering. Checking out several ponds we have in our pasture for the beef cows I found the following: a Killdeer trying to convince me that he/she was injured in an effort to protect her nest, another bird with a long beak (If you can identify it, I would appreciate it. See image below.), a flock of ducks that flew away so fast when they saw the dogs running at them that the image is blurrier than a child’s smudged finger painting, and a frog I assumed was dead, until I poked it with my stick.
“By god, he’s alive Lilly,” I said to the Great Dane. She looked at me like I was from Mars, but she looks at me like that all the time!
I grabbed the frog out of the water and put him on a dark-colored stone and within a matter of minutes he was looking more lively. He just needed a bit of warmth.
I saved a frog today!
I again started tromping through the woods, looking for the elusive morels.
I found another type of mushroom as big as a dinner plate; obviously last years vintage too.
Here are my images:
The dogs and I continued on our way. There is a point on a curve of the river with a dead Elm tree on the very end. It is quite harrowing in my opinion to reach the tree. I am always afraid the banks are going to give way and wash me downstream. It was quite worth the effort. I found FOUR mushrooms. On our walk back to the four-wheeler, I could hear a calf bellering. I figured it was hungry and looking for its mother.
I told the dogs, “Let’s go find that calf.” They all agreed; Lilly still looked at me like she didn’t quite understand.
I walked along the river and as I looked down over the edge, just out of curiosity, I couldn’t believe what I observed. There, on a little patch of mud no bigger than a standard door mat, was a beautiful, big, brownish-black calf!
“It’s gotta be a bull calf,” I thought to myself. “No heifer calf would be so stupid.”
I looked around for the momma, for safety purposes. Mother beef cows are more aggressive than honey badgers! OK, I exaggerate, but they are very protective of their babies.
No mom in sight. Time to send out the SOS on the phone. (I always take my phone into the woods when I go alone. I am very accident prone.)
“Umm, we have a problem. How we gonna get him up over the edge?”
See him in there? The image is deceiving. He’s about six feet down a straight drop!
Joe texts back, “I already saved one today.”
What is that supposed to mean? I should let this one go? Sheesh.
“Go down and get him,” Joe added in another sweet text. “Is it blind in one eye? It could be the same one.”
“Nope. It’s not,” I respond.
I decided call Joe to ask him for advice. He wanted to leave his golfing responsibilities and I refused to let him.
“If you can’t stay there and focus on golf, you shouldn’t be doing it,” I said. “I’ll figure it out.”
I find a rope in the storage case on the four-wheeler. Luckily, Joe had left the slip knot in the rope from his earlier rescue. (I still have to ask him about it.) I gingerly hang over the edge and try for several minutes to get the loop over the calf’s head. He’s hungry so he keeps trying to suck on the end of the rope. Eventually, I can call myself a cowboy and get the little humdinger lassoed, but I had to lower myself down about four-feet, feet first on a sandy, crumbly cliff. I was a bit nervous and scared, but don’t tell anyone.
By golly, I think this calf weighs 500 pounds. I have never had to pull a calf straight up over an edge. He thought I was trying to kill him and bucked every inch of the way. I used a small tree as a … what … to pull the rope sideways, so the calf comes straight up the cliff. I thought I was a genius.
The damn dogs were absolutely no help. Ole keep trying to give me kisses. Lilly just stared at me. Digger and Eddie, the Rat Terriers were doing things in public they should only do in private.
I finally get the the calf up on solid ground and tie him to a small ceder tree. Then, I remember seeing something in the four-wheeler that would make everyone proud of me, if I used it correctly.
It’s the thingy that puts a rubberband around his two, tiny bull parts to make him a steer.
I have never banded a calf. I do remember Joe talking about rubbing a calf on the underside to make them descend. Whether his is factual or a little stunt on his mother, I am unsure … but I give it a try anyway.
O lord, I must have been a site. Hanging on to the bull’s private parts and rubbing his belly. I must have been a bit aggressive, because he didn’t like it one bit! I was ever thankful to be down in the woods, far from any roads and houses. Where not a single soul could see the spectacle.
The calf kept running away in circles.He was making it difficult. Finally, I tackled him, put my right elbow into his ribs and with my left hand, felt for his nuts.
I grabbed the bander, pulled his tiny parts through the band and let it go. I wasn’t quite sure I did it correctly. The felt the bull parts, but it didn’t feel right. It’s not like I feel them every day.
Meanwhile, Joe had texted and requested I do the banding with one stipulation.
“Don’t put the band on if you are not sure you have his nuts.”
I texted back, “The band is on. You want me to take it off now?!”
I had to call him.
“I am not so sure I got his nuts to drop,” I said. “They feel all spongy.”
“Mother, don’t you know what nuts feel like? They are soft and almond-shaped,” Joe replied with disgust.
“Yep, I feel the almonds! I just didn’t think they would be squishy like that,” I replied to my 23-year-old son.
Now I had the task of trying to find the calf’s mother. I hog tied the calf. Yep, front legs to the back legs, prayed to God that I wouldn’t throw my back out and hefted the 200-pound calf (Weight discrepancy meant to be. I was freaking tired.) onto the back of the four-wheeler and drove toward the rest of the beef-cow herd.
I was immediately approached by a black cow that thinks Ole is the cat’s pajamas. I don’t know why she likes him so much. The cow seemed to think the calf was hers. Now these cows scare me. As she was approaching I was trying to untie the calf as fast as I could and toss it from the four-wheeler. Yes, I tossed it. I was just a few feet from an aggressive cow and all alone with just Lilly, the Great Dane, by my side and I have explained her intelligence already.
The momma cow started getting a bit ornery so I drove off as fast as I could.
Then the pseudo-momma decided she didn’t want to be a nurse-cow and kicked the calf away, as did any other cow that he tried to nurse on. This dude was hungry.
Eventually a big red Angus decided to adopt the calf. She chased away all the other bitchy, mean moms and let the little guy nurse. I am not sure she is the mother, but that’s beside the point. The hungry, heavy dude was getting supper.
I felt relieved and happy. My day in the woods couldn’t have been better.
I saved a calf from the edge of fast-moving Little Cottonwood River and found him a momma.
I also found a bunch of mushrooms.
It’s a good day!
(Due to time constraints, I haven’t proofed this story yet. I am tired, muddy and hungry. I need a pseudo-mom too. I just want to finish, clean up, and eat. I also wanted to share this story immediately, so if there are typo’s please just gloss over them.)