Denis Lehane: Fatted calf could be the finish of me

My knees are bandy, my arms are aching, my back is well on the way to being broken. I’m ruined entirely, I’m telling you, and there is no point in saying otherwise.

You can buy these miniature calves from Gold Creek Galloway in Australia. You won't hurt your back loading them up.

And it’s all the fault of top class dairy farmers and their monsters of calves.

This year, breaking with tradition, I made a deal with a few progressive local dairy farmers to buy calves directly from them, thus avoiding getting all hot and bothered down at the mart.

I figured cutting out the middle man could well be the key to success. Well, more the fool me.

A few days ago, I arrived on the first dairy farm with my jeep all cleaned out and ready to load in the first snapper of a Friesian bull calf.

Out galloped the calf, and I had to stand back in stunned amazement, for he was huge.

“A mighty calf!” says I, rubbing my hands with delight.

“A grand calf, after a grand amount of feeding. What a bargain!” 

I said to myself, laughing heartily as I grabbed hold of the fellow with the aim of gently lifting him into the back of the jeep.

Well, I wasn’t laughing long, for I soon discovered that the big calf was a big problem when it came to lifting.

He was the heaviest thing I had ever grabbed hold of.

But I managed, and was soon homeward bound with my fine calf.

My back was a little worse for wear, but nothing to get too excited about.

Tomorrow after all, was another day.

But tomorrow turned out to be the very same as the day before. I went to another farm for a calf, only to encounter another heavyweight.

And it’s been the same story on half a dozen more occasions, with Friesian bulls like Augustus Gloop, and my back broken from attempting to load them.

While in normal circumstances a fellow would be delighted to be getting such calves, with me it is never normal circumstances.

I’m very upset by the whole affair. And things finally came to a head this morning, when I went to collect two calves from a farmer, only to see two animals like sumo wrestlers appearing.

I had had enough. I could take it no longer. I lost the rag.

“What’s the meaning of this?” I asked the farmer.

“What do you mean?” says he.

“Your calves,” says I, “are nothing short of monsters! Can’t you see that my back is bent like an S-hook from trying to load the likes of them all week!”

The farmer apologised and explained to me that he couldn’t help it, he simply had exceedingly good calves.

Well I told him there was no sense to it, and that I could buy much smaller fellows at the mart.

“I’m like the Prodigal Son entirely,” I said, beginning to cry.

“I’m seeing nothing but the fatted calf.

“I’ll take them, but I don’t think my poor back can put up with too much more of this type of punishment.”

The farmer apologised again for having such magnificent calves, and explained that it was the good milk that was piling on the condition.

I told him ’twas my backhe should be apologising to!”

Honestly, if I don’t start seeing a few íochtars soon, I swear I’ll be finished entirely.



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