Coyote Soup

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The Lone Calf April 15, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,cows,Musings,ranching — Piper Long @ 5:29 am
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So I was returning home from a trip to town, childless and husbandless, enjoying the beautiful day, admiring the blooms of the blackberry bushes along the road and enthusiastically looking forward to a few hours of peace and quite at the house.

That’s when I turned the corner, crossed the cattle guard and saw her. Just standing there on the side of the road. All alone.


She was much too far from the rest of her domesticated family to simply have been bedded down for a nap, awaiting her mother’s return. Her mother couldn’t even get to this pasture. There were too many fences and cattle guards in the way. This calf had obviously been scared, causing her to run for miles until she was lost.

I know enough to know the possible scenarios that could play out in this situation.

I had many options.

1. Get out of the truck, walk up to the calf, calmly talk to her to ease her anxiety about being away from her mother, convincing her to get into the truck so I could take her back to her mother.
It typically never works with calves this young. They typically get spooked and run. And run. And run. Until they are even more lost than they were when I found them, thus being vulnerable to predators such as coyotes.
2. Get out of the truck and rope her.
I’ve never actually tried this, why start now?
3. Get out of the truck, grab a stick and gently herd the calf slowly back to the pasture with the rest of the herd.
See #1.
4. Drive on and act like I never saw her.
Then she would probably continue to wander and may never find her mother. Which means she will likely die. Which means I would have to live with this for the rest of my life.
5. Stay in the truck, call my husband and tell him I will be following the lost calf in the truck, possibly having to get out and follow on foot into the woods and likely getting lost myself. In which case, he will organize a search and rescue crew early enough that I can get back home before the coyotes come out and get both me and the calf.
Which is what I opted to do.

Fortunately, the calf wasn’t too alarmed by the presence of the truck and moseyed on down the road, stopping regularly to call out to her mom, while I tracked her from the truck.

Miraculously, she turned onto the road leading to the pasture where the cows were. But she still had a very long way to travel.

Feeling quite confident that the calf would find her way to her mother, I decided to get out my portable laptop and plug into the internet to get some work done while puttering along at a snail’s pace behind the calf. That’s about the time she decided to take a wrong turn into the woods.

Meaning I had to disconnect from the internet, pack my water, phone, snacks and flashlight and take out on foot. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be lost in the woods with the calf. Or how anyone would find me.

I could picture it clearly… My husband calling to ask where I am… Me telling him I’m somewhere in a 500 mile radius of my truck near some kind of tree… My tender epidermis would be scratched up and mangled from the relentless, wild blackberry bushes and brush littering the pastures and wooded openings… I would send him a picture of my location from my cell phone…. He would probably be able to figure out where I was…. He knows every tree, rock and leaf on the ranch.

Or maybe I wouldn’t be able to get phone service. Maybe I’d be lost so long my cell phone would die. Then I would die. Then the calf would wind up finding it’s mother.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about any of that.

The calf didn’t wander too far off when my husband showed up, rope in hand.

He had the calf roped and loaded onto my lap in the truck before I even realized he was there. My mind was still playing out the horrific scenarios of what could have been.


3 Responses to “The Lone Calf”

  1. kim Says:

    I think she was playing you. She knew exactly where Mother was.

  2. LLB Says:

    Aah…good story.

  3. Pany Says:

    Aww. Cute little calf 🙂

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