Eat Like an Animal

by Amy on January 6, 2010

There are days when I would rather feed our heifer calves than my family. For me, cooking is oftentimes more trying than parenting or ranching.  

I strive to have supper ready at a time when we can all sit down together and I try to make wholesome, home-cooked meals that nourish and satisfy, but I oftentimes hear complaints. Sometimes it’s about when we eat supper.  

My son grumbles when I tell him it’s time to eat and he’s trying to get homework done. Suppertime isn’t very popular with my daughter either, when she’s started a project on the kitchen table and I’ve asked her to clear her things off so we can eat. My husband gets owly if he’s hungry when he walks in the door and supper’s still forty-five minutes away. Other times I have to announce more than once that supper’s ready or go around the house rousting everyone from their activities.  

When it comes to meal preparation, I’m a casserole queen but my family doesn’t feel affection for them to the degree that I do. I like the convenience and speed with which I can whip them out but if I tried to make casseroles suited to everybody in my family, there wouldn’t be much in them to eat. One family member doesn’t like food mixed together, another doesn’t like tomatoes, and a third doesn’t like onions or green peppers cooked. It’s difficult to satisfy everyone’s food preferences and I don’t try to; they have to deal with it. Getting everyone to clean up, whether it’s regarding someone’s plate or the kitchen, is also a struggle.  

I get more satisfaction and joy out of feeding our heifer calves. For starters, they’re fast learners. When I honk a long and two shorts with a pickup’s horn, or when I holler, “Here, calvie, calvies,” they know it’s time to eat.  

Our bovine beauties are always excited to see me and will come a runnin’ if they aren’t already at the feed bunks when I pull up to the barn. Since they’ve gotten used to being fed at a certain time every day, I rarely have to call them in but if I do, once is enough.  

These hungry girls don’t mess around when it’s time to eat and are easy to please. When they see me packing buckets, they get wild with excitement. They pull themselves up to the feed bunks or stand by the door sniffing the air waiting anxiously for me to feed them, but they also give me a wide berth so I can get to the bunks. I don’t hear any complaints about the taste of their creep feed or see them picking at their food and it doesn’t bother them to eat it cold or get fed the same thing everyday. The bunks are licked clean and all the hay that was fed the day before is slicked up when I go to push up their hay again.  

I don’t walk away from the kitchen after supper feeling the same way I do when I leave the barn after feeding the heifer calves. Feeding calves is easier and faster, and when I drive away, they always look content and satisfied. I encourage my family to use good table manners but it wouldn’t bother me if they ate like animals occasionally.

Column originally published December 27-January 2, 2010

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