A Nervous Butt – New Fiction Writing by J. R. Kruze
It’s just too easy, this stuff called living. Except when you get knocked down on the ground like an explosion just hit you.
Gerald started picking himself off the ground, sitting up at first to get his bearings. Like having been blown off his feet in some sort of war.
But it was just the butting of an expectant cow who was feeling nervous that day.
Couldn’t blame her, the day was fresh, you could smell Spring in the air. Grass was greening up and lots of protein and carbs in it. Clover was peaking up over the fescue and other grasses. The yearlings were running around lower down the hill pasture, enjoying the nice weather. Literally kicking up their heels.
And it was warm enough to wear only a slightly insulated duck jacket, some yellow split cowhide gloves (unlined), and an old ball cap with some seed company’s logo Gerald had picked up for cheap at a bulk sales outlet. Of course, there were the leather boots with a waffle sole for the moist ground he was now sitting on instead of walking. And that thought made him get up.
Because the moisture was slowly seeping through the seat of his blue denim dungarees. Felt like a pinch, as it was so cold. Winter doesn’t leave overnight, he thought.
A quick glance around showed him where that momma cow was. And not far off, facing him, as if to wonder what he was going to do in response. His cedar walking staff was over to his right within reach, so he picked that up. For a few reasons. Any possible defense against that cow was one, walking steady was another.
So Gerald put his left arm down on a gloved knuckle, got a knee up under him, and then scrambled the rest of the way up. The staff helped.
Then he faced that cow and wondered what he’d done to spook it. Most of his cows were calm, and the high-strung ones went to auction.
“You surprised me with that flapping scarf you are wearing.” A voice came to him in his head. “And it still scares me.”
Gerald looked into the cow’s eyes, which were wide and showed her whites. A quick glance showed no other humans were around. And no other cattle or dogs were near. It must be her. A black-whiteface they called Old White Face.
“Sorry.” Gerald told her outloud. He backed away to give her some space, so she wouldn’t feel threatened enough to charge him. Then he settled the staff against a shoulder, took off his gloves, stuffed them in a front pocket of his dark jacket, and unknotted the scarf. Then folded the bright yellow scarf up and stuffed it in the other jacket pocket.
“Is that better?” Gerald asked.
“A bit.” She was moving her head from side to side to get his distance from her, and to see if anything else was going to scare her.
Gerald got his gloves out and shoved his hands back in them, one at a time. Meanwhile, keeping his eyes on Old White Face, he continued, “Just wanted to check on how you’re doing today, how soon your calf is coming.”
As he was talking, he held his staff out and down, reaching the space between them, but lower than her chin. She looked at it. Gerald took a couple of quiet, short steps forward, to put the staff end close enough for her to reach forward.
Old While Face met him the few inches different and sniffed the end of it, licked it tentatively.
“OK, you’re fine. I’ll let you go this time. Got any corn on you?” She looked at his yellow gloves that reminded her of those treats.
“Let me see.” Gerald lowered the staff and put it upright in his left hand, while putting his right hand in that pocket. There was a partial cob there, just for her, actually, but was underneath offending scarf. To get her the corn, he first pulled out the scarf and hid it in his gloved hand until he could stuff it in a back pocket of his blue dunagarees. Then he was able to reach the cob.
Pulling it out by it’s end, he offered it slowly to her, again letting her have a few inches to decide for herself. There was no need to surprise her again, for both their sakes.
Old White Face sniffed and then closed the distance. Her mouth opened and let her long black tongue come out to reach around the cob. And took a step forward to pull it into her mouth.
Gerald let go as soon as he knew she wasn’t going to drop it, and moved his hand slowly back.
The crunching was loud enough to hear. He watched her move it from side to side in her mouth, both removing the kernals and crushing the cob small enough to swallow. Within a few seconds the cob was gone and she moved another step forward, sniffing for more.
“Sorry, that’s all I brought today. You’re better off eating grass for that new calf of yours.”
The cow looked up in his eyes, trying to see what he was going to do next.
Gerald moved his right hand up slowly, so she could sniff it. She also licked it and tried to bite it. Gerald formed a fist so she couldn’t pinch his fingers and let her take it partially into her mouth. As it tasted like leather, she let go.
At that, he brought up that hand to scratch her nose between her eyes and slightly lower. As she accepted that scratching without trying to butt his hand, he moved to scratch behind the bump where her horns should be and itched is for her. She took this easily as well.
Gerald next moved down the top of her neck to scratch between her shoulder blades.
Old White Face lowered her head to open up that area beween her shoulders, and encourage him. “Oh, yea. That’s good. Right there.”
Gerald continued, pausing only to shift his cedar staff to his right hand so his left could keep scratching between her shoulders. Meanwhile, his right hand’s knuckles moved down her back, careful to not let her feel the staff. With the left hand still between her shoulders, his right knuckles began scratching right next to the start of her tail on the side nearest him.
Old White Face was pretty close to heaven now, with her head down and leaning toward him with her rear end to put more pressure on that scratching. She moved her tail toward him as part of the effort.
Gerald brought his left hand to replace his right to continue her tail scratching. This allowed Gerald to take a step down the side of her so he could look over her backend under that tail.
She was loose, but not seeping. That usually meant it wasn’t going to happen today. The calf would come when they both thought it was ready to arrive. So he’d read from some of those university studies. They’d tried to see if impregnating a small herd of cows all at the same time would bunch up their birthing, but they were still spread out by a couple of months by the time the last one dropped. Well, it was a question to ask, to test.
When the cow and calf both agreed it was time.
So Gerald moved on, walking downhill to see the rest of the herd, and how the pasture was holding up.
“Is that it? Really?” Old White Face turned her head to look after him.
Gerald stopped and turned back. “Well, all for now. I’ll be back before sunset and see if I can’t bring some more treats for you. You just fill up on grass and take it easy.”
“Hmmmf.” The cow went back to grazing.
Teach me right to startle an expectant mom, Gerald thought to himself.
“And next time dress all the same color, no flapping.” Old White Face was looking at him, chewing a mouthful of grass, as he turned his own head around to face her.
“Yes, mom.” Gerald smiled. Finally he had gotten her to ‘talk’ to him, if only though her thoughts. Only a few more in his herd and he’d have them all telling him their stories.
No one would believe him, like his dog said.
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Also published on Medium.