Farm kids learn early not to make pets of livestock. There’s no way those friendships won’t end badly. Knowing this, kids still sometimes get attached. My younger sisters Connie and Marilyn bottle-fed an orphan calf until it was old enough to be put out to pasture with the rest of the cows. Long after he ran with the big boys, he’d hang around the fence waiting for them to walk by. They’d made they habit of letting him jump up and “hug” them, a habit they discouraged when he approached a hundred pounds. WatchIng hopefully for the schoolbus, he’d lope up as it pulled in the drive. Male calves don’t need to make long range plans. Connie and Marilyn had remained friendly with this calf so long, Mother dreaded seeing their reaction when they came home and found him gone. When Connie came in looking for him, Mother couldn’t avoid the truth.
“Connie, you know we were raising that calf to eat. We can’t afford to keep cows for pets.” She was braced for waterworks.
“Where is he?”
“We had him butchered. He’s in the freezer.”
“You mean y’all are gonna eat him!”
“Can I have some?”