Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

0608 PD: Molasses calf

Baxter Black Published on 14 April 2008

You gotta feed cows in the winter in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Liquid molasses is a common supplement.

But Annie (an alias) was not prepared for the sticky surprise she found in their molasses tank. Standing withers deep in the rectangular container was a four-day-old bull calf!



She went to work trying to cajole and lift the calf over the edge. It was so slippery, no grip could be had. Taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, Annie delicately stepped into the tank. The molasses was cold and came up to her knees. Ignoring the discomfort and slime, she tried to lift the calf. Her attempts were fruitless; he was just too slick to hold.

In an unconscious moment she tried to swipe a lock of hair out of her eyes and nearly knocked off her glasses! Charging on, she reached around the calf’s midsection and managed to get his kicking, wiggling hind feet up to the lip of the tank. That was where he planted both hind legs and got enough leverage to push the two of them over backwards! Annie fell flat on her back and submerged completely as the calf scrambled around on top of her.

She rose from the molasses mire like a mastodon breeching from La Brea! As the audience of bawling mother cows cheered her on, she slid and slipped and fell and rose and heaved the calf over and out! The cows immediately began to lick off the poor little baby.

Annie lurched out of the cow lot, navigating by crash, fall and stumble to the electric fence hot wire, obstacle one. She reached down for the plastic handle and a pint of molasses poured out of her coat sleeve. It completed the electrical circuit and the shock waves rippled through her body!

Shivering, she lay down in the moldy hay, dead leaves, cockleburs and tumbleweed, obstacle two, and rolled under the hot wire. Wearing her coat of many stickers, she made it to the barbed wire gate.


Pressing against the post to open it, she squeezed out another bucket of molasses like she was wringing a mop! At last she crawled up the front steps, but alas, obstacle three, could not turn the knob…too slippery. In desperation, she got on her hands and knees and tried to dry her hands on the dead grass in the lawn. She came away looking like Bigfoot playing a werewolf in some demented off-Broadway horror film.

Oh well, she did what she had to do. Save the calf and did it with no regard for her personal safety, dignity or reputation. Her husband said later, with empathy, she didn’t really look like a werewolf. Maybe more like one of those seagulls in the National Geographic Magazine that had been washed ashore in an oil spill in a tidal wave of goose bumps! PD