It's an odd thing feeding Ted. We take such care to see him, morning and night, and feed him by bottle the creamiest milk on the farm. He lives with two adoptive aunts, Leche and Canela, and it is obvious to the whole farm that they have accepted him as their own. Several weeks ago the grass grew tall enough that we could put this odd threesome out to pasture. So, now feeding Ted is an expedition of sorts. They have the whole back 40 acres that is a series of fields connected by wooded paths. Sometimes, Ted is right at the gate of the garden, expectantly waiting. Some days you have to wade through waste-high grass for a good 20 minutes looking for the little calf. There you will find him, lying supine in the sun, his ears flickering and his tail lazily chasing flies.
He can drink a half gallon of milk in under 90 seconds. He does it every day. Morning and night. He has become so strong and tall that it takes holding the bottle with two hands and bracing your self in a wide stance to feed him, lest he knock you over with his enthusiasm.
We call Ted, Ted, because it was the name of the last bull calf we knew and we wanted to impart some anonymity with naming him. We've decided we will name all future bull calves Ted too. For, we plan to eat Ted. This is why we are still bottle feeding him milk at 4 months old. He no longer needs it. But, if we want Ted to grow large enough to slaughter in the fall we must ply him full of milk. If he doesn't grow quickly we will have to keep him through the winter, which involves more hay than we can afford and one more being to keep warm and dry in our small run-in shed.
So, it's an odd thing feeding Ted. It feels at once sweet and mothering but also awful. We are nurturing to kill. I suppose most of farming reconciles odds like these all the time. I find myself totally at peace with his fate. I am, truthfully, looking forward to the beef in our freezer this coming winter. But, I still feel sorry for bull calves, it seems unfair to be dealt such a crappy hand just for being a boy.
-Kate from Longest Acres