Here, in my part of the world, it is blueberry picking time and everyone who loves these delicious blue lumps of sweetness is out in full force to get their share!
There are some great blueberry farms around and I have been to most of them in the past. But in this time of post-covid and all the aftermath of it, I prefer someplace small with no crowds. I have a friend who has a small patch of berries that he opens up to family and friends, so I opt to go there whenever possible. It’s clean and tended and mowed. No bushwhacking necessary!
This is a working farm so when I arrived I was given a bucket and sent off to the fields alone while the owner went back to his chores.
I chose my area carefully. The bushes were full of beautiful blue-black berries just crying to be picked. I set to work. It went quickly and my bucket was almost full when I heard Mr. Farmer approach. He informed me that he had to run an errand and wouldn’t be gone long. But if I left before he got back, would I please close the gates. I said I would, waved my goodbye, and went back to work. Within a few minutes more my bucket was overflowing with beautiful blueberries. I straightened, stretched my back, and, suddenly, his words hit me: “close the gates…”
In an instant, I recalled all his stories about chasing animals that had managed to get past everyone and escape out the gate. Right on to the highway. Most recently were two errant bull calves that never seemed to want to stay where they were put.
I glanced to my right, into the hot-wired cow pasture. To my relief, there they were, the herd grazing contentedly on fresh new grass, heads down, paying me no mind. But as I bent to pick up my bucket and turn to go, my heart sank. There, standing behind me, close enough to reach out and touch, were the infamous bull calves! Staring at me. Just staring. I wondered how long they had been there. To say the least, it flustered me a bit that I had not heard their approach.
Having grown up on a farm, I understood the unpredictability of bulls. And even though these were just ‘babies’, sometimes even they can get a testosterone overload and act like fools. Hopefully, today was not the day.
Quickly, I calculated the distance to my car. It was at the end of the row. I didn’t have far to walk to reach its security. Only a few feet really.
Summoning my bravado, I shooed the creatures. They acted scared and ran a few feet away quickly to turn back and follow me to my car. By now, it was obvious they were not intent on anything but enjoying their freedom. One actually ran ahead and beat me to my vehicle and inspected it closely. New smells. New sights. It was not one he had seen in his field before. He bowed his neck at it once but thought better of attacking something so much bigger than he was. The other animal practically climbed into my car with me as I slid in and closed the door.
“Go away!” I said loudly. It did not phase them. I carefully maneuvered my car around into the right direction to leave. They managed to stay just out of the way, but not moving very far away. I glanced at the open gates, clearly in sight. They could see them as well. I now hoped I would make it to the gates before they did. I was not prepared to chase runaway calves!
I honked the horn, hoping to frighten them enough for them to go on their way. They were apparently used to that tactic! They had already decided that my little car and I were of no threat to them and they would not be intimidated. My only hope was that they would not follow me down the driveway. But they were already beginning to lose interest. As I crept along in the car, they gave up following and meandered off, back from whence they had come, looking for some new kind of mischief to get into, no doubt. By the time I got the gates closed, they were completely out of sight.
They hadn’t even nibbled on the blueberries while they had the chance! But I had. They are delicious.