- If You Do Not Want the Swimsuit IssueJanuary 23, 2012
- THE WEEKSOUTHWESTN. Brooks Clark | November 07, 1983
- One car film that clicks'Heart Like a Wheel' depicts the life of dragster Shirley MuldowneyFrank Deford | October 24, 1983
Frantically steering his three-wheel all-terrain vehicle, Dan Hampton races into the woods on his Cabot, Ark., farm. He is searching for a missing week-old calf. Although it's common for a cow to hide its newborn, Hampton is plainly worried: He hasn't seen this calf in five days, which is too long. He had called his herd of 10 Simmental cows, six calves and one bull to the barn earlier this summer morning, and the calf still hadn't appeared. Now, at the creek on the northwest corner of his 151-acre spread, Hampton finds the helpless calf lying in tall grass.
"This is all my fault," says Hampton, hanging his head. "Why was I so lax about checking my calves?"
Hampton rushes home and telephones his veterinarian, Craig Boyd. Then he climbs into his silver pickup truck and speeds out the driveway and onto Highway 89. He parks alongside the road, which cuts through part of his land, vaults a barbed-wire fence and dashes through the pasture to the calf.
"Oh my God!" he bellows, scooping the 115-pound animal into his arms. "Oh my God! The flies have eaten through its hide."
He hugs the calf tightly and wails, "Oh no. Oh my, no. Oh no." He lumbers to the pickup and lays the alert but motionless animal in the cargo bed. After a 10-mile roller-coaster ride over country roads, running stop signs and red lights, Hampton pulls up behind Boyd's office.
"Do you think we ought to put him down?" Hampton asks breathlessly as the vet works on the calf in a pen outside. Boyd says no. The calf had suffered an infection near its navel, Boyd explains, and while it lay in wet grass to recuperate, flies laid eggs in the wound. Boyd sprays the calf's back and belly with water from a garden hose. Hundreds of maggots fall to the pavement. He rubs shampoo into the hide, covers the infected area with an antiseptic and injects antibiotics and painkillers into the calf's shoulder. "Baby," says Hampton, tenderly stroking the calf's nose, "if you pull through, I'll never sell you."
Boyd instructs Hampton to nourish the animal with its mother's milk. Back at the farm Hampton, with the help of a neighbor, Jimmie Lee Beene, places the calf under its mother's udder. Two more times that afternoon Hampton feeds the calf with its mother's milk, which he has squeezed into soda bottles. He says he can feel the calf coming to life.
But early that evening the calf takes a turn for the worse and dies. "This isn't fair," Hampton moans. He's too distraught to bury the animal, so his brother, Matt, hauls the calf into the hills with a small tractor and buries it himself.
"Dan loves animals and finds tranquillity in them," says his wife, Terry. "He enjoys the responsibility—that they have to have him to survive. He felt he had let this innocent little baby down. He was so frustrated, he was in tears."
Hampton couldn't face himself in the mirror for several days after the calf died. "It's easier to handle my own pain than to see it in others," he says. "When I was a kid, I dumped a pan of boiling grease on my hand, burning off a chunk of skin. I could feel what the calf was feeling. Rips, gouges in my flesh—that I can cope with. When anyone else is suffering, I go out of my mind."