At first Maria, the calf, backed away from me. So I crouched down and was still, giving her the time she needed to come to me. The calf on the other side of her was nibbling on what ever part of me he could reach. My shoes, my sweatshirt, my elbow, he slobbered all over me.
Eventually Maria came close and started to enjoy me scratching her neck. She nuzzled me, licking my hand with her long rough tongue.
In my mind I pictured our farm, the donkeys, Chloe and the sheep grazing in the pasture. I was hoping Maria would pick it up. To give her an idea of who I am and where she’ll be going for a while. It’s the kind of visualization Jon write about. We do it all the time, sometimes intentionally, sometimes just intuitively.
By the time I left the Gulley’s farm I smelled like a calf.
And when we got home, the animals were at the gate, waiting to be fed. I cut up some carrots to give to Chloe and the donkeys. Chloe gobbled hers up but Lulu jumped back from me like I had done something to startle her. Then Fanny did the same, both of them actually running away from me.
This never happened before, even the other times I visited Maria the calf, but I figured it was the smell on my hands that was bothering them.
The next morning when I went out to feed the animals I wore the same sweatshirt and both Fanny and Lulu reacted the same. So I washed all the clothes I wore to the Gulley’s farm and that afternoon Jon and I sat in the pasture and let the donkeys wander over to us. Lulu presented herself to me and Fanny went to Jon. As I scratched Lulu’s ears I pictured Maria the calf on the farm and let Lulu know she would be staying for the summer.
I don’t know if Chloe ever spent any time with or near cows, but I know the donkeys have. They lived in the pasture next to Jon’s three cows at Old Bedlam Farm. The donkeys are usually pretty easy going, so their reaction is surprising. It only took them a couple of hours to get used to Chloe. Before Chloe came to the farm I’d let the donkey’s smell my clothes and hands after riding her. I did the visualizing with them and Chloe too.
Maybe the next time I come back from visiting with Maria the calf, her smell will be a bit more familiar to the donkeys. I told Lulu that Maria was just a small thing, smaller than her and Fanny. Nothing to be afraid of. But that’s obviously not what the donkeys are smelling.
I think it will just take some time, like waiting for Maria the calf to feel comfortable enough to come to me. But we won’t know for sure till she gets here.