Ricardo’s Story

ricardo and frisco chillaxin'

When I met Mike, he had five geese who lived at the corrals.  They were known simply as “The Geese.”  They would go on walkabouts, and bathe in puddles, and terrorize me.  But, one by one, they got killed off.  One was killed by a neighbors’ dog.  Two were hit by cars.  Another died mysteriously in the corrals, and we don’t really know the cause.  For the past two years, there has been only one goose.  That goose is Ricardo.

After all his geese-mates were killed, Ricardo adopted a cow.  Cow 234.  The “2” which begins her tag number represents the last digit of the year she was born.  For most ranchers, a cow whose number starts with 2 is a cow that was born in 2002, and is eight years old.  But Mike keeps all his cows until they die of old age and Cow 234 was born in 1992.  She’s 18.  She be old.  Spry and full of vigor, to be sure, but she is old enough to warrant special care, and she is one of Mike’s Special Project cows who do not take the long walks to spring, summer, and fall pastures.  She, along with a select few, travel just 1/4 mile down the road to the fields Mike leases for his Special Project cows ~ the injured and the old.

234 & her goose

So.  Two winters ago, Ricardo adopted Cow 234 and they became mates (in the Australian sense of the word).  That spring, Mike and I slowly trailed the Special Project cows to the nearby fields.  As we began our short journey down the road, we heard frantic honking, and, lo and behold, there was Ricardo waddling down the dirt road, trying to catch up to his cow.

Mike scooped him up and carried Ricardo on his lap to the new pasture, where he spent summer and fall with the Special Project cows.  The families who lived around the fields were delighted by Ricardo, beau of the bovines.  He became the talk of the neighborhood.  Soon, the Special Project bunch had been renamed the Goose Group.

When all the cows come home for the winter, the Goose Group cows stay in the corrals along with Daisy and Frisco, near Sir Baby, Houdini, and Sunshine. Here, from left to right, is Frisco, Cow 234’s calf, Ricardo, Cow 234, and a cow recovering from a broken hip:

the goose group

Ricardo is recently named. This winter, while I was spending so much time at the corrals waiting for Daisy to calve, I decided “the goose” was no longer an appropriate moniker for this force of personality. He needed and deserved a name.  And it was Ricardo.

Ricardo immediately grew fond (and possessive) of Sir Baby and Frisco; if I dare interrupt while Ricardo is with one of the two of them, I get quite the earful.  And threatened with pecks.

Ricardo and Daisy have little to do with eachother.  She tried to roll him twice (she does not like small animals and has tried to take Eli as well) but now she ignores him, and he ignores her.  He gets plenty of love from the black bovines, and he loves them right back.

Ricardo holds counsel

ricardo holds counsel

Midweek Meditation: Ricardo the Goose

Ricardo the Goose drinks water from a red bucket.

Frisco, the beginning days.

first days

Whether it is the birth of a human child or the birth of a calf into a Farmily, the entrance of this new and unique being turns what-had-been into something very different…. and, in the first days (which seem to strech into an eternity each), life becomes chaos.

Suddenly, after two weeks of keeping vigil over Daisy’s pregnancy and therefore barely sleeping, I was milking twice a day along with all that milking entails: washing pails and jars, trying to keep ahead of the ocean of milk… ok, that’s just two things but oh, my, how they can take over one’s life.

Daisy, meanwhile, was doing her best to keep up with her baby, but, as you can see from the photo above, she looks a bit haggard.  She was haggard.  Frisco, from the first hour, was a lively, curious, incredibly energetic little guy who just wanted to jump! Explore! Kick his back legs! Race around the corrals and run smack into Daisy!  And then eat his fill of milk.

drinking is exhausting

Drinking is exhausting.

Luckily, I discovered the ecstasy of bathing and showering with fresh milk and became less overwhelmed with the overflow, and Daisy had The Aunts to help her out with Frisco: two 18-year-old black Angus cows of Mike’s.  Eighteen years is an advanced age for a cow, but Mike does not sell his beef cows, as most ranchers do, when they reach a certain age.  The “old gummers” live out their final years in comfort, and these two became Frisco’s nursemaids.

Frisco also has a manny ~ a male nanny ~ in the form of a crochety old goose that happens to love cattle.  We thought Ricardo only had eyes for one of the Aunts but he has become quite enamored with Frisco, and feels such a kinship with Sir Baby, my Angus bull, that he ferociously flaps his wings and honks vicious threats if I have the audacity to intrude whilst they are together.

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