Thursday, April 12, 2012
Being Different ~ Patrick the Beef Baby in a World of Jerseys
Patrick is different. It's not just that he is a beef calf living with a herd of dairy cattle, it's more than that. It's not just that he is black and the other calves are fawn colored, it's more than that. It's not those two, black circles around his eyes giving him the look of a bandit, it's more than that. It's not just that he is almost twice the size of the miniature and percentage miniature calves with whom he lives, it's more than that.
Patrick seems as healthy as can be. He takes his bottle with gusto and has never had the scours. He is growing well on the Jersey milk and eats grass out in the field. But Patrick just isn't "normal". In part, he is different because the rest of the herd treats him differently. They simply do not accept Patrick because he is "different". The momma cow's push him away and the calves pair up with their own kind. When Patrick tries to sneak in and get a drink of milk, the momma cows push him away. This hurts his feelings and means he has to wait for a bottle.
Unlike some of the other "orphaned" calves we have had who have been aggressive and insisted to be treated "the same", Patrick doesn't have the initiative to force himself on anyone. In fact, he never even cries for a bottle. If I do not have a bottle available when he comes up, he never even waits for it. He simply goes off into the field. His attitude seems to be "if I get a bottle, I get a bottle and if I don't, I don't."
When I offer Patrick a bottle, he does not run forcefully towards me and butt the bottle like a normal bottle baby. He drinks well and has no issues, but calmly steps back when bottle time is over.
Patrick does not like human contact and doesn't seek out affection.
Patrick is different and Patrick knows he is different. He is quietly resigned to being different and although I know we are not suppose to resort to anthropomorphising, I can't help but ascribe a certain sadness to him and his aloneness.
I also can't help but draw a parallel to human children who are "different" and who don't quite fit in. I have known and worked with children like this who simply "give up" in their resignation to go through life without the acceptance of others because they are different, all the while inside wanting to be loved and accepted.
Maybe Patrick's story can help us all be a little more accepting of those who are "different" and hopefully Patrick and others will "fit in" better with time.