When I went out to get this routine started this morning, I heard the two Holstein steers bellowing in the dark, as always. But one voice was absent, that of Gypsy, Grace's heifer calf. Yes, I do know her voice: It's higher pitched than the vocals of the steers. Bad things started running through my brain... she was fine last night... did she get the scours, which would account for her not bawling from hunger...
You see, I'm punchy since all our cattle losses a year ago, and tend to expect the worse when it comes to the cows. I shone the flashlight in every corner of the pen. I peeked in the stall where the calves usually spend the night, and into the calf hutch Cliff put in the pen for added protection if they wanted it. Cliff has rigged up a temporary pen made of cattle panels our the side yard so the calves have grass, and more room to roam. I walked the borders of that pen. No Gypsy, and no feminine bawling.
"Well," I said to myself, "it's no use trying to do anything in the dark. I'll come out at daylight and look for her." So I brought Grace through the barn and let her out with the boys, figuring that it wouldn't hurt her calf to miss one meal, if she were alive, that is. Just then I heard Gypsy bawling nearby. I shone the flashlight around and caught a glimpse of her... in the yard! Running loose in our front yard!
She knew it was time for breakfast, so it was easy to get her through the gate and in with her mom and foster-brothers. But I'm still puzzling over how on earth she got out. Gates were secured, and the fences (and panels) are sturdy and tight.
There are a couple of spots where the bottom of the fence is perhaps a foot to eighteen inches off the ground, and it's possible that she might have laid down next to the fence and ended up getting up on the other side; I've actually had that happen before. Cliff and I will see if we can find any escape route today.
Gypsy has turned out to be an appropriate name for the heifer, because she is a Traveler, every chance she gets. This is the fourth time since her birth that she has escaped confinement.