How do you (or would you if you lived on a farm) transport a calf from the calving pen where they were born to their new home?
There are dozens of different methods used on farms each and every day: carry them, wheelbarrow, hay carts, calf carts actually designed for the task, the bed of a truck.
The farm my dad works on typically uses the bed of the truck. My husband will usually carry the calf or let them walk – with some encouraging nudges – up the hill.
Last week, I had to break out my “redneck” side and use a Rubbermaid tub in the backseat of my car – yes, inside my car.
Most of my show cows are still under the supervision of my dad in southeastern Pa. My husband and I live two hours north of that farm. And I don’t have a truck.
So when one of our prize Red and White cows delivered a huge Red and White bull calf last week, we were left with a dilemma. Most of the time, bull calves are shipped to the local auction market a few days after birth, typically destined for a feeder or veal operation.
But calves from this particular family are turning out to be worth something, not only because they’re red, but also because they’re polled, too – a niche market that’s gaining a lot of momentum for dozens of reasons ranging from “red cows are pretty” to animal welfare angles concerning not having to dehorn polled calves.
Even though this calf turned out to be a bull – which my son named Captain Crunch – my husband and I still want to keep him for a while until we can get him genomic tested and maybe use him as a breeding bull in the future.
My dad simply doesn’t have the space or the time to take care of a bull calf. It’s not that my husband has the spare time either, but he does have the room at the moment.
Enter the Rubbermaid tub.
Let me paint the picture of how this looked:
- A blue Ford Focus, four-door car.
- A two-year-old in his car seat strapped into the passenger-side back seat.
- A blue Rubbermaid tub taking up the rest of the back seat with a 100-pound Red and White calf inside it (no, I didn’t put the lid on) and two criss-crossed bungee cords across the top to deter him from standing.
I’m sure all the other drivers on the highway had to take a second look to see just what was in my car.
Captain Crunch traveled very well, until the final 10 miles to his new home. He started balling, which woke up my son who then proceeded to tell the calf to be quiet and it was naptime. Captain Crunch didn’t listen.
The calf now has a nicely bedded 4-by-8-foot pen and will never have to see the inside of my car again – I hope.
~Jessica Rose Spangler, market editor