Naming Our Bottle Calf Norman

I recently described here my shock at finding a rare set of newborn calf twins and being still more shocked when the mama cow refused to allow the tiny bull calf to nurse. Knowing this was not an unusual circumstance with beef cattle twins and previously having bottle fed calves, Trudy and I swung full force into action with store bought colostrum and powdered cow’s milk.

A nameless baby bull calf and big friend

A nameless baby bull calf and his heifer friend

We determined the calf needed a name, but what should we call it? We typically don’t name those destined for the livestock auction, but in this case a handle shorter than “the bottle fed bull calf” was needed.

Since posting that story I’ve heard from “Rowdy’s Mom” who suggested the name, OLLI. Rowdy’s Mom  until recently was the very capable director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Texas Tech University, hence the acronym “OLLI” and her understandable affection for the name. As an aside, She also is most responsible for cajoling me two years ago into helping to establish a branch of the OLLI-TTU in the Texas Hill Country. Thanks Emma for all your wonderful help and my arm has almost recovered from your persuasion.

Despite her’s being a very good suggestion, by the time we received it another name was already being  used.

Mama Trudy and Norman

Mama Trudy and Norman

Have you seen the movie, City Slickers? This humorous movie starring Billy Crystal depicts his character and two chums (all New York City slickers) at a dude ranch improbably herding cattle via horseback from New Mexico to Colorado. During the long trail drive, a mama cow gives birth to an adorable calf they call Norman. Billy Crystal’s character is forced to rescue the calf from a surging river, he bonds with it, and quixotically packs him home in a crate to join his family in the city. The calf in the movie looks very much like our bottle fed calf and, you guessed it, we call our calf- Norman.


The feeding of Norman twice a day has become a regular staple of ranch activities. Betty and Cecil Selness, great friends from Minnesota, recently spent time with us and became regulars at Norman’s feedings.

Betty giving Norman his evening bottle while Cecil drinks his own libation

Betty giving Norman his evening bottle while Cecil drinks his own happy hour libation


Grandson Graham spent part of his spring break at the ranch with fishing, horseback riding, gator driving, and hikes on the agenda but his favorite activity above all others was feeding Norman. Graham also learned how hard a baby calf can buck against a bottle when the milk doesn’t come out quickly enough.IMG_0656

Needless to say, Norman has frolicked and suckled his way into our hearts. It’s hard to spend so much time staring into Norman’s appreciative dark eyes and not develop a bond of affection. In a year when we need load him into the cattle trailer for the one way trip to town,it will be a sad day indeed.

In my next post, I’ll share what I’ve learned about bovine twins of different genders and the concept of freemartins. Please let me know if you’ve had similar experiences and, if so, what you learned, especially about yourselves. For now you can think of Trudy and me as Calf Mama and Calf Papa.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: