The sky was blue and the sun was shining but the temperature was probably in the low 40’s. If you kept moving you were okay but stopping just exposed you to the full effect of the wind up here on top of the pasture. We had come up out of the old limestone rock quarry and were moving uphill, to the northeast, and approaching a limestone outcropping at the crest of the hill. If you had asked, we would have told you we were rabbit hunting. We each carried a .22 rifle and were good enough with them. I was twelve or thirteen and Jack was a couple of years older. If you had questioned us further we would have told you that we were just there for the joy of being outside and didn’t really care if we saw a rabbit or not. This section of ground was a limestone dome that had been drilled on and there were a half dozen pump jacks scattered around that were bringing up oil with every dip of their heads they made. The land itself was pretty poor in that only a couple inches of dirt covered the limestone and that would only grow some short grass and weeds. The whole section was only supporting a couple of cottontails and we practically knew the wary little devils by their first names after seeing them vanish over the crest of the hill so many times.
We were just cutting across the top of the hill to get over to a place on the river where we might have better luck. We decided to take a breather and stopped at this little gully that meandered down from the crest of the hill. If you dropped to the ground you were out of the wind and could enjoy the feeling of the warm sun. After sitting there for a minute we began hearing a soft crying sound. We hadn’t seen any people or animals as we walked so had no idea what it was. As we sat there and tried to tune out the sound of the wind the sound became clearer and seemed to be an animal in distress. We began searching the area around us and right at the crest of the hill found some vertical slabs of limestone with a crack between them. The sound was coming right out of that crack so we scooted over there and tried to see into it. It was about noon so the sun was above us and was showing into the hole. We could see that the hole was probably 10 foot deep and had big rough stones in piles around the edges. Due to the shadows we couldn’t determine what kind of critter was in there so we pulled some wild oats out of the side of the hill and knotted them into a hank. We always carried matches in case we would want to cook something so lit our “torch” and dropped it into the hole. We were amazed to see a young calf looking up like he was the happiest guy in the world to see us. I was afraid he may have broken a leg when he fell in so I decided to go in and check him out. The hole was large enough for me to get through and it looked like there were plenty of hand-holds so I went on in. I ran my hands up and down his legs and everything was good so I climbed back out. The pasture was used by a farmer named Glen Lietzke who had been a high school classmate of my folks. I knew Glen better than Jack did so I headed on over to his farmhouse while Jack stayed there to talk to the calf and keep him quiet. The house was only half or three-quarters of a mile away and as I got there and started down the lane, Glen arrived in his pickup. After I explained the problem, Glen went to the barn and picked up a couple of ropes and then we headed back over to Jack and the calf. Glen was a stocky man and couldn’t fit through the hole so he asked me to get back in there and put the ropes on the calf. Glen directed me on trussing up the calf and then he and Jack hauled him up while I tried to keep him lined up. At first it didn’t seem like the calf would fit through the hole but eventually we got him lined up right and he slid right out.
That calf was a lucky fellow. We didn’t ordinarily cut across that pasture because we knew we’d never get a rabbit up there. Glen was tickled that he hadn’t lost a calf and Jack and I were happy that we’d had another adventure.
October 20, 2013