Would You Believe – Black tornado?

Would You Believe - Black tornado?

I came across this drawing, this morning, of a lovely angus calf lying in a grassy field (at and it reminded me of a little black tornado of a calf at Rutgers University College of Agriculture, New Brunswick, New Jersey, in the 1960s. As an Animal Husbandry student, it was required that I take part in an annual Fitting and Showmanship activity. During the first year I opted to work with a Shorthorn steer calf. That curly-haired red and white calf took kindly to the daily washings, brushings and leash trainings. We won the calf showing portion of the contest and I then went on to win the over-all contest. That involved showing each of the other animals, a pig and a sheep, which had won their categories in the contest. The participants who had prepared those animals had to take turns showing “my” lovingly prepared calf. All the animals had been exclusively taken care of by one person for several months and were used to the touch, smell and manerisms of that person. Also, none of us participants was experienced with the foibles of the other types of animals, having chosen a breed in which we had a particular interest, and we had worked only with that type of animal. Showing the other types of animals correctly was particularly challenging. Anyway, I proudly won the overall contest and was given a small medal which I still have. After being chosen as the winner during that year, I approached the following year’s contest with a bit less trepidation and a bit more confidence. It was somewhat of a surprise when I was given charge over a young Angus heifer in that second year, after requesting another Shorthorn calf. I’d had previous run-ins with Angus cows during my youth (see my posts “Mooving Laundry” and “Black Angus Cow and Calf”) and wasn’t too sure about working with a small, energetic black calf for this contest. It was explained that experience with the characteristics of different breeds was essential so that informed choices could be made later if we students chose to raise beef cattle. So, I acquiesed and began taking care of that little animal. She was much smaller than the Shorthorn steer had been, much quicker to take offense if a brush offended her in some way, and she was much more agile. Still, I came to find working with her to be an enjoyable experience. Daily washings of the animals didn’t come into play until we had been working with them for a couple of weeks, in order for them to get used to our presence. The day chosen for the first washing of my calf was a fine, quite warm, sunny, very windy one, with the emphasis on very windy! I always wore the same clothing each time when grooming the calf (having washed it in between times :>) ) so that the calf could become used to me. On that day, I had on my customary white, long-sleeved shirt and tan denim pants. The only thing different was that I had not tucked in the rather long tails of the shirt. Instead, because of the heat and the fact that we were going to be working with a garden hose and soapy water, I opted to tie the shirt-tails in a knot across my belly at waist level. Those white shirt-tails caused a lot of trouble! I got my calf’s leash attached to her halter, brought her out of the barn into the wind and wrapped the leash around my wrist (!!!) with several turns and reached down to pick up the hose. That’s when all &^%$#@:” broke loose. The calf, rolling her eyes wildly, took one kick at my blowing shirt-tails, and took off in a mad, bawling dash for the nearest pasture. Unfortunately for me, I was quite firmly attached to that twisting, kicking, hi-jinking, madly bawling calf by the firmly wrapped leash, and couldn’t get loose. We managed to rapidly transit two pastures, fly through two barbed-wire fences and scream across a rocky stream that day, with me being dragged all the way (I weighed less than 100 lbs. in those days :> and she pulled me quite easily ). The little black tornado-like calf finally tired of the “game” and slowed down enough for me to get loose. Gasping, I gingerly took hold of her leash, and we walked the last 1/4 mile back to the barn together, quietly. When I tried to give her up, pleading for another animal, the farm manager told me quite firmly, NO. I was to return to my assigned task, with her, to do it well and to do it properly. Never mind that I was scratched, bruised, bleeding and crying, I was just to DO IT! Well, I did, and the Angus calf and I managed to get along after that day. Together, with my shirtails firmly tucked in, we won both the calf and over-all championship categories of the Fitting and Showmanship contest that year, and I proudly accepted another winner’s medal. She later went on to become a successful member of a breeding herd, and I never forgot the experience.


2 thoughts on “Would You Believe – Black tornado?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s