Going in to this, I was like, "Wow, this is going to be so cool! I'm going to take a bottle calf to fair!" I knew that this calf was small and not in the best shape, but when I saw him I was both thinking, "This will be harder than I thought," and "Don't worry, little guy. I'm gonna get you fixed up and you'll be the best calf ever. You'll win the fair," at the same time. He had massive scabs on his knees from falling a lot because he was so weak and his rear end was caked with clart and he was a sack of bones that barely came past my knees at a month old--that's small. He never really grew, and from early on he didn't have good luck. His mother was 16 years old and he got trampled in with the other cows. He lived with my uncle's dogs on the back porch until we brought him home.
And then on Saturday it all turned for the worst. He didn't want any food Friday night and was inactive, and when I got home from my commitments on Saturday morning his belly had bloated to twice his size. I could hear the sloshing of what's called frothy bloat and the echo of the gas on his insides like he were a balloon. He didn't want to move. From the advice of someone on Facebook, we cut up a garden hose to use as a stomach tube to get some of it out. We pushed it down his throat and after a little while the most rotten smelling stuff started coming up. But it made me happy. I would have smelled it all day, because I thought that meant that he would get better, that in the morning he'd be ready for his bottle and we could put it all behind us. I didn't care that he looked as thin as the day we got him because that meant the crap was out of him and he was on the road to recovery.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
The next morning he'd bloated again. We had to drag him out of his house to see how bad he was, and withing a few hours he wasn't able to stand up on his own. His breathing became shallow and his eyes sunk in. When my uncle came to see if there was anything he could do, my sister had taken me to some graduation parties, partly to get my mind off of Bovril. It didn't work. All I could think about was getting back home to see how he was doing. When I left, I didn't know that that was the last time I'd ever see him.
He barely made it back to my uncle's house before he passed. He wasn't even out of the car yet.
I didn't find out until the next Wednesday because I was too afraid to ask.
I still can't believe I only had him for two weeks. It feels like a whole part of my life has been ripped away from me. Like it has to have been longer--things that important and life changing are never so short. It's hard to think that only three weeks ago today my mom and I were building him a little house and driving down to get him. One week ago, probably within a few hours ago, he died, and I didn't know. I was holding on to the vain hope that maybe, just maybe, I'd get him back and all would resume as it had been. That possibly I'd be taking Bovril, poor little underdog Bovril who'd been given one chance, to fair. I wanted so badly to bring him back to my uncle at the end of the summer with a blue ribbon on that very calf that had scabs on his knees, poop on his butt, and ribs showing through his skin, the one that would have a shiny coat and a spring in his step, well fed and bright eyed. The one who defied all odds and made it when everything was stacked against him. We really thought he would.
But now, our little calf that could, he never will.
Rest in Peace, Bovril the calf.
Wherever you are, know that
I'll always love and remember you.