021Cleaning cow stalls is like cleaning a giant litter box that you stand in. Except the cats are 300 pounds and aggressively nuzzling you. Why won’t they go outside? Most cows (I mean the whole four other cows I know) like to go exploring. These guys won’t go any further than the barn… foyer. Is there a word for that room?

Is their hesitancy because they’re just little, four months old? Or is it the bale of hay I’ve got there for restocking their manger that just stop them in their tracks? That one time a few deep cleans ago, one of them (they have names for some reason, but I just call them both ‘cow’ since we are going to eat them eventually) wandered a bit down the road toward the house. When I noticed, impressed with his boldness, I thought to myself “I hope he doesn’t go TOO far,” since I wasn’t very confident in my ability to retrieve him. Just as I finished the thought, he seemed to realise how far from home he was, turned around and started galloping back to safety. More of a skedaddle than a gallop, these little guys move like Looney Tunes. Too much horrible, horrible freedom for one little calf!

Sometimes they won’t even leave the stall. I try to clean around them while they chomp hay, since I personally don’t want to eat a creature that has to sit in its own poop for too long. It’s pretty roomy and they’re not kick-y so it’s not really that hard. Except when they’re NOT eating hay and instead nibbling on your boots, or pant legs, or shirt hem, or shovel handle.  They are reasonably swayable and don’t fight me when I move them out of my way but they’re so darn cute that I don’t really want to! Unless their absurdly raspy tongue contacts my skin, it’s surprisingly painful. Like the spiky side of velcro, but sharper. I kind of just want to play with them all day, but I’m still easily exhausted by manual labour, so I have to get this done once I start!

Another way they like to make my work take longer is when I’m trying to give them their grain. Cows love grain. Horses love grain. So do chickens and ducks and turkeys and peacocks and goats and dogs(!). I don’t think there’s a critter on this property that doesn’t go crazy for grain. But these baby cows! They are most grain enthusiastic. I walk into their stall with the container I measured it into and I can’t even get to their dish to pour it in. I am immediately surrounded by two excited calves running in tight circles around me. I have to fight my way through the calfnado to give them what they are so excited about getting. Will they ever realise that if they just don’t do that, they’ll get their grain sooner? I don’t personally care, I think it’s hilarious and look forward to it every time.


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