When I was in grade school, possibly 8th grade, my daddy gave me a black angus calf for a pet. It was an ingenious move on his part, because by gifting me with this wobbly legged creature, he had a willing assistant with the 5 AM milking and feeding. The thing that I, as a farm kid, understood is that he wouldn’t be my pet for long, because the cute calf matured into a steer that fed our growing family for almost a year.
During my visit with my brother last summer, we toured the farm, surveying the damage by the recent tornado. While we walked around the pasture, his steer, Norman, followed us, nudging and nuzzling in order to get a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears (just like my dog does). I asked my brother if he would be upset when it came time for Norman to “leave” and his response reflected my understanding as a farm kid decades ago: This steer would provide enough income to sustain him for several months. The realities of farm pets.