From Pipi’s Pasture: Saying goodbye to Ucky
Yesterday. I was writing about getting into a winter routine, which was the intended topic for this week’s column, but then, this morning, when I went to do morning chores, I found my (almost) 24-year-old cow, Ucky, had died. So this week’s column is in memory of her.
Ucky was born one morning when our granddaughter Jessica was a toddler. She took one look at the calf that wasn’t quite cleaned off and said, “Ucky!” so that’s how Ucky got her name. Ucky was solid red with a white, star-like shape on her forehead.
Since Ucky’s mom had a “bad bag” and couldn’t feed her calf, I bottle-fed Ucky. Another calf, Sarah, had lost her mom, so I raised the two calves together. Even as grown cows, Ucky and Sarah seemed to share a special bond. (Sarah is still alive and well here at Pipi’s Pasture.)
One of my favorite memories of Ucky and Sarah was the first year they had calves. Ucky had her calf first, and when we put her back in the pasture, Sarah came running to see the new baby.
As a grown cow, Ucky was sneaky when it came time for her to calve. Once, I was filling a water tank at the corral, and I saw her come around the back, sniffing the ground as she hunted for a place to have her calf. When she saw me, she hurried around to the front part of the pasture, acting as if nothing was going on. She acted so guilty, it was comical.
A few years back, Ucky started having problems with her legs — or perhaps her hips — so I decided not to send her to the rugged summer pasture where she had to climb up and down hills. She raised two calves here at Pipi’s Pasture, the last one just a couple of years ago. He was a surprise, since we didn’t think she could have calves any longer. I have written about him — remember the calf that chewed on my clothes and pulled my pants off?
Since she has been staying here, I have been feeding Ucky grain twice per day and locking her in a pen at night so she can eat morning and evening grain without having to fight off other animals. That doesn’t mean that she didn’t have any fight left in her, though, as she ate hay with the others.
A few days ago, Ucky was having more trouble walking with her back legs than usual. Since the weather was wet, granddaughter Megan and I moved her into a larger pen and fed her grain, hay, and water. That’s where I found her this morning, in the same place Pipi, the cow for whom this column was named, died.
I’ll miss having Ucky stand in the open gate of her pen, scratching on the post while I wait to close the gate. I’ll miss seeing her wash her calf or lie there in the sun, chewing her cud. Mostly, I’ll just miss seeing her.
Rest in peace, Ucky.