Sunday, August 16, 2015

Within an Inch of Her Life

     Finding myself in the tractor on Wednesday, I had a few hours to clip our lush pastures.  A bit late in the summer for us due to the heavy amounts of rain we've had this season.  My previous two weeks had overwhelmed me so I welcomed the monotony of circling those green fields.  

     Although I believe my son gets his mowing skills from his Mother, because when I bore of the same section, I move to another for a change in scenery. 

     The day was bright and sunny, I was working outdoors and I crank up the IPod because I am in a "I can do anything" type of mood.  I slip on my sunglasses, not because I need them in a cab tractor but because I think I feel cooler with them on as I vibrate the windows of the Kubota with some classic rock.

     As I make my turns I leave the easy sections for last.  Making a few passes, I happen to glance from watching the edge of the brush hog in my drivers side mirror, to the front tire.  Simultaneously stomping on the brake as I punch the yellow PTO button, I stare into the tall grass.

     The massive tread of the black tire are within an inch of
chewing into a freshly born black calf.  Backing up a bit, my mind is still in "Surprise!" mode as I step down the metal rungs into the hot pasture.  We aren't due for our first Fall calf for a minimum of three weeks.   

     Approaching her, I scan the fields for any sign of Momma while I nudge the calf with my foot.  Nudging harder, it still is not moving.  Bending down I lift her to her feet while my eyes are darting left and right ensuring that I do not have an angry cow with me in her sights, I realize this heifer is unresponsive.  She is hot with only slow, slight movement in her eyes.  Oh dad gummit!

     I bawled many times and Cow 131 trots within fifty feet of us and acts like she doesn't know this is her calf.  Leaving the baby where she lay, my only assumption is to get her to the shade.  Trading the tractor for the truck, I'm wondering how I'm going to lift her onto the tail gate.  Four heaves later she is partially up there and I shimmy until she is fully loaded.   In hind sight, I should have just loaded her right onto the top of the brush hog.

     Unloading was a tad easier.  Momma doesn't want to have anything to do with her so I rub on her body, trying to get a response.  I then make a 20 minute round trip home and back, toting a bottle that I forced down her gullet.  Instantly I heard her belly grumble as the milk made contact with her tummy.

      Thirty-five minutes later, a third of the bottle was down her and she refused any more.  I rubbed her all over again and I found her
little cow eyes were no longer glazed over.  She called her Momma, weakly and I said, "I"ve done all I can do."  I continue to mow the grass, doing a "drive by" every so often.  An hour and a half later I see her swaying beside her Mother, suckling. 

     Ahhhhh............this day could not have gone any
better.............until I look over and I see Cow 149 crap out a calf of her own and stare as it hits the ground and immediately rolls off the back of the pond bank!  It landed a few feet below her in culvert of sorts and we both gawk in disbelief.  Cow 149 was the first to recover as she called out to her offspring. 

     I did try to pull it out of it's predicament, but I had a hormonal, angry cow try to charge off the embankment at me and I thought, "Let's end this day well."   I'll come back later with reinforcements to check on these two.  

     And that I did.   A couple of hours later when we checked both sets of cow/calf's, all was well with my day. 

     I am proud of this day because I have a fantastic teacher, who is patient and sees my eagerness to learn and who rarely puts boundaries on what I can attempt alone.  I have watched and listened for four years and felt I knew how to handle the situation without calling for help.  

     What I see is progress in myself and that I can have a boss, who is also my husband, put his trust in a herds woman, who is also his wife.

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