The End of the Black Calf
©Ken Harris, 2006
When we last left this story, Joanne was standing in the middle of a pasture dressed in hose, heels and clutching an extremely dirty blouse. The cow, still in discomfort, nosed at her long, thin, black calf wondering whether it had been worth the effort. And Barbara Van Landingham cooed over the latest addition to the nursery, wondering how they would ever, in a year’s time, find the resolve to kill the beast and eat him.
Joanne said that the real problem would be letting him live long enough to get big enough to eat. She never spoke truer words. This calf was BIG! He was also MEAN! (This is a really unpleasant combination in calves, and I don’t recommend it.) In just a few short weeks he destroyed the flower beds, knocked down the fences, pulled seedling trees out of the ground, treed the cat, nigh pulverized the dog and Barbara found that neither she nor any of her family could even go into their own pasture.
At last Barbara decided that castrating the calf would improve its temperament. We agreed that when the calf reached six weeks of age, we would do the dirty deed.
I don’t know why females think castration improves a male’s temperament. It certainly wouldn’t have improved mine.
And so on a bright, sunny, Saturday morning we showed up at the Van Landingham house ready for work. The calf, who had been named Sunshine, or Sweetness, they should have named him Damien or Be’elzebub, had been penned up. We went to the pen and found ourselves looking eyeball to eyeball with the animal. We checked our tools, Phisohex, clamps, razor blade, and ropes. Lots of ropes.
So we were ready. Be’elzebub wasn’t. He doubted our sublime intent and wouldn’t stick his head in a noose. At last we got a bit of a noose around him and, from the top of the corral, I threw myself on his head. We dropped to the ground, the calf and I, and Joanne lashed his hind feet to the bottom of a corral post and then his front feet to the bottom of another corral post. He was lying flat on his side and I still had hold of his head.
As soon as Joanne made her first incision, the calf objected strenuously. He lifted me up by his neck and slammed me into the ground while at the same time pulling in with his feet. These gyrations went on through the entire delicate procedure. I didn’t dare let go of the head because he would certainly have wreaked havoc (and wrecked everything around him).
At last the job was done. I let go of his head. Joanne untied him. He had pulled so hard he had snapped one of the corral posts off at ground level. It’s a good thing we nailed him when he was only six weeks old. Otherwise I’m not sure who would have done what with which to whom.
When we finally killed him, some months later, he was two axe handles broad and did everything but breathe fire. But he had good taste.