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Healing heifers' hearts

June 01, 2009

o If you like reading Tim Rowland, you'll love watching him. See what else Tim has to say

The alpacas on our farm were all boys and the cattle on our farm were all girls, a circumstance that has slowed our breeding program considerably. I don't think the species cross, so my dreams of an "alpacow" that would produce steaks, and a sweater to wear while grilling them, never came to much.

So we turned to Doug May, who loaned us a belted galloway bull to come in and do the favors for the heifers Cleopatra and Heifertiti. The bull did not have a name; real ranchers don't name the animals, but we are not real ranchers. Doug was nice enough to tell us, without snickering, that we were free to name the bull if we felt so moved.

Beth wanted to name him Dandee, but I believed that this was not a proper sobriquet for a tough hombre bull stud, so we compromised and called him Dan the Man.

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We off-loaded him the day before Mother's Day, appropriately enough. The heifers gave him a quiet stare, but our miniature horse, Doodlebug, was more demonstrative. The Little Puke neighed and whinnied and tossed his mane all about. I think the heifers wanted to be sure that Dan knew they were not interested at the moment. I think Doodlebug wanted to be sure that Dan knew he was a horse.

Dan is young, and not terribly worldly. He got on the wrong side of the creek and couldn't figure out how to get back to the females. His bawling drew disgust from Cleopatra, who just continued to graze with an unspoken resolve that this fellow would not be the father of her children.

But Heifertiti, herself a youngster, took an awkward, Disney-animation-like shine to Dan, and feeling sorry for him, splashed to his side and nudged him down to a shallow crossing. I have several witnesses to this rather unlikely occurrence.

Back at the barn, Dan figured that "she must like me," so he made his move. I had my doubts of his effectiveness. Watching through the window, I told Beth that Dan was mounting Heifertiti.

"Great," she said.

"Not really," I replied.

"Why not?"

"He's mounting her head."

Heifertiti had backed herself firmly into a corner, with her rump planted into the barn wall, limiting Dan's romantic options.

I walked out, put my arm around the bull and told him not to take this the wrong way, but that whoever had taught him about the birds and the bees had been grossly misinformed.

He tried again, pushing her away from the wall, but she began walking in circles, never allowing him a clean shot. The goats, meanwhile, were watching from up on the hill and guffawing their fool heads off. The content of their bleated commentary can only be imagined, but seemed to run along the lines of "Hey Dan, try getting her drunk, har har har."

The two animals continued to circle. Dan's eyes were rolled back in his skull at this point, as he tried to explain that this was a biological need and that everyone back at the farm was doing it and that if she really loved him ...

Beth seems to think that the two kids will figure it out eventually. And for all I know, this was just a cow version of dinner and a movie, but I'm still a bit dubious. All the heifers in the world, and we get the one with the morals of Sister Angelica.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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