Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Is our Benster learning?
Learning not to be quite so ASKEERED of the Dread Calves of Doom? It certainly looked like it today. For the last couple of days I’ve been bringing a few cups’ worth of grain in a bucket out to Ben in his fields at midday/early afternoon, partly to add to his caloric intake beyond his breakfast meal (also only a few cups), since he’s fretted himself thinner than I like, and partly to lure him closer to the DCoD in an effort to desensitize him. After all, how bad can things be with a mouthful of sweet feed? So out I’d go, gimping my way across the first field to the gateway into the second with bucket plainly visible. The first day I had to go some few yards into Ben’s safe place to get him moving toward me. When he’d walked up and gobbled a couple of mouthfuls, I backed up to just inside the first field. He checked out the DCoD, came on, got another mouthful; I backed up another few yards; he hesitated, worried, came on; and so forth till Ben was midway across the first field. Then the grain and his tolerance for THEM both gave out and he trotted back to safety. Yesterday I waited within the gateway and he walked right up to me. Again it was mouthful or two, back up, Ben advance, mouthful, repeat. This time I got him, with some wary pauses to look for THEM, all the way through the paddock/first field gateway and a few yards farther on. He was nervous going that far and finally chickened out, turned, and trotted back to the first field; dithered; walked back to safety. Today was even better. Ben was less tense the whole time and made it several yards into his paddock before I ran out of grain and he decided to leave – but at a walk, and he stopped in the first field, perhaps to chat with the white boys, who were both in the lane during all this, gazing hopefully at the bucket. I hurried back to the barn, got a couple more cups of sweet feed, and went back to the first field gateway. After one look to locate the DCoD, Ben came strolling over readily and allowed himself to be lured more than halfway across the paddock – and this with the calves up nibbling grass and moving about! When the grain and his tolerance gave out, he walked back out calmly a short distance into the first field and settled down there to investigate whether there was any edible grass to be found. We still haven’t reached the WhaddayaGonnaDo? state yet, but Ben’s gotten past “I’mGonnaDIE!!!” and I have hope now that he’ll adapt to living with monsters.