The calves are the size of collie dogs. They stumble up from their knobby knees to greet me when I hop the split-rail and hay-bale fence. Their tongues are lapping and their throats working before we even have the bottles ready, their sideways eyes rolling in excitement. After they've drained the bottles dry - and after we've finished tossing hay to the yearlings, feeding and watering the chickens, fighting off the rooster, mucking, and breaking up ice with a sledge - I climb back into their pen. With a coarse brush I sweep down their spines, across their ribs, along their cheeks and necks. I run my hand down each leg, squeezing gently. I scratch under their chins - the little one likes that the best - behind their ears, on their soft foreheads. While I'm working on the little one, his brother tongues my sweatshirt, head-butts my hip, chews gently on my elbow. When I do him, the little one curls up under the heat lamp and watches us intently.
Outside, the yearlings are lowing at the spring-feeling rain, chasing each other around piles of hay and softening slush.
[Plus! Check out J's new blog