In this poignant story by 16 year-old Lily Carrington, a mother cow watches helplessly as her calf is taken away from her.
I do not have a name. I have a number. 1803.
My black and white hide quickly becomes sodden as the taunting rain explodes like a million tears falling to earth. I stand by the heavy gate, my hooves unsteady in the mud, long lashes blinking in the rain. My heart pounds in my chest and my breath comes in harsh gasps.
I hid him this time, his newborn body disappearing easily in the long grass by the shrubs. But they found him of course, and took him away like last time. They think I am stupid but I remember.
“Get in there, you little piece of sh*t!” A male voice rises above the repeated crying of my baby from across the yard. A black bird flees from near the lean to where my one was dragged. Two bodies still lay outside the wonky structure from the day before. The dark coloured puddle that appeared around them has long washed away. I remember the sudden air splitting noise, one piercing crack followed by another, and seeing the two little bodies fall, one struggling on the ground for a while till they both went still.
A rough thumping then a squeal of pain sound from across the yard and another wave of anguish washes through me. A large tear escapes from one of my big brown eyes and mingles with the rain on my face.
“Stop your whining,” the voice continues. “you’re useless, you know that? No good for nothing”. My large soft ears twitch towards the sound. I know the voice. My whole self recoils from it. He has my baby, that human. I can just glimpse into the corner of the lean to where my baby stands on wobbly legs, shaking and looking around, confused. The man stands looking down at him and takes something black and solid from his jacket. I pace back and forth by the gate.
The man has stopped talking. I see him holding the black object to my baby’s head. He takes it away a fraction, looking at the gun then the tiny, weak calf in front of him and back to the gun again. He seems to hesitate, his brow furrowed. Then he shakes his head and roughly pushes my baby out of view, muttering something under his breath. I hear my calf start crying out again, high pitched, scared, cries. Calling for his mother.
I push against the gate again, but it doesn’t give. I try the fence but the strange pain flashes through my body like I knew it would and I pull back abruptly. I pace again, the blood from labour now mixed with mud on my hind legs and my udder hanging heavy with milk ready for my calf.
A gunshot sounds. My babies crying stops. I let out a long, mournful cry, then let my head hang and do not move for a long time.