Yesterday, as I sat eating breakfast with Nancy I heard an odd bleating sound coming from the back side of my cabin.
"What’s that?" I asked.
"Just a cow, it sounds like," she said.
We continued eating and having a good morning conversation when the bleating started again. Only this time it was closer and more insistent.
We looked through the window and a little bull calf, hardly a week old, kept bumping itself against the barbed wire fence that separates the cow run from my back yard.
The little bull, about the size of a small dog, was clearly distressed.
Then not 10 yards up the hill, a coyote stood licking its chops, ready to pounce. In a panic, we set our plates down and got up to rescue the calf.
I realized there probably wasn't enough time to run outside and chase the coyote away. I opened the kitchen window and clapped my hands loudly several times, mimicking the best I could the sound of a rifle’s report.
The coyote bolted away and we ran out to fetch the calf. It seemed happy to see us and came to us quickly, bleating and bleating.
It was weak, dehydrated and happy to be in our company. It’s mother, we found out later, had gotten stuck in a ravine further up the way and apparently was weakened from fending off the coyotes all night.
She had been left there by the other cows. It had rained recently and the creek sides were slick and wet and slippery and the poor cow couldn’t get out.
Local herds are weakened by the drought. They’re not grazing because there isn’t any grass. Ranchers are feeding them the best they can with feed but it’s costly and there hardly ever seems to be enough.
The cows are more susceptible to cold and disease.
We put the bull calf into a pen and eventually were able to feed him with a bottle. The mother still hasn’t claimed him.
He calls out whenever he sees me or Nancy and we talk to him. My neighbor across the creek is thinking about taking him on and says that one day the coyotes may be sorry they tried to eat him.