No bull, ‘Mumps’ gave me perspective |

No bull, ‘Mumps’ gave me perspective

When we were little, my sisters and I played our own makeshift game of baseball. Without any of the proper equipment, we substituted a long, thick stick for a baseball bat and took the head off of kewpie doll for the ball. Bases were “that patch of dead grass” or a rock, which turned out to be troublesome as we typically played without shoes.

But then one day, by pure luck, my sister found an old, kind of rotten baseball bat. We got splinters using it, but it still felt awesome to have a real-life bat.

I can’t say exactly why, but just a few days after our find of a lifetime, I was walking to the barn carrying the new bat. In order to get there, I had to pass through the pen where Mumps was.

Mumps was a bull calf that had rickets, a rare metabolic disease that had left him with deformed, bowed legs.

The cowboys on the ranch made splints out of PVC pipe to help straighten his legs, and by this time he was walking on his own.

Mumps had been raised on a bottle, so he had no fear of humans. Contrarily, he looked to us as caregivers, not realizing his size made him more dangerous than pet material.

I knew of his propensity to try to nuzzle people, so I sprinted as fast as a could across the pen. But I wasn’t fast enough.

As I started to climb the fence, Mumps penned me against the wooden rails. I’m not sure whether he was just itching his head or nuzzling for milk, but his more than 500 pounds was crushing against my 9-year-old frame.

Jeff, one of my dad’s hired hands, heard my cries for help and came running.

He did the first thing he thought of. He grabbed the bat that had fallen from my hand and cracked it over Mumps’ head.

Of course, Mumps was barely phased by it, but it did give me a chance to slip through the fence and escape him.

My first reaction was one of horror, “You broke our bat!”

“You should thank me for saving you,” Jeff responded. “Who cares about that bat, it was rotted anyway.”

Looking back, he was right. I should have been grateful to him rather than sulking away home.

Time and perspective gives us the wisdom to realize what’s important and how appreciative we should be for those things.

This time of year is the perfect season to reflect on all that’s been given to us and the ways we can help others. To be grateful for what we have instead of lamenting lost bats.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at