Reason, alas does not move mountains.
It only tries to walk around them,
and see what is on the other side.
George William Russell
Every morning at first light just like clockwork I head downstairs to pull on my coveralls, my vest, my Pink Cadillac Boots and I actually take my time and take great pleasure in choosing from one of those four knitted hats that hang on the rack. I know this sounds strange but in farming as in life I believe that you should take those little joys where you can find them, sounds simple but sometimes it is what will get you through those unexpected things life may throw at you.
Early one morning last week I pulled on the green and white fuzzy hat that made the cows smile the very first time I wore it, I was going to wear my Spring Flowers from Montana Hat which always makes me smile until I looked out the window and seen a thick coat of frost covering everything and the hat being cotton, well the decision was made. I walked out the door with a smile ready for my world and whatever it had in store for me.
That so called spring morning (I am wondering about that word spring) while trudging through mud and ice I opened the gate grabbed a couple of bales and took them to the cows. I tend to count and feed at the same time. Let me tell you it is very very hard to count running calves but I am getting better at it, practice makes perfect as my Grandma used to say. The calf count was one off and the cow count was one off I immediately scanned the cows and noticed it was No Ears who was missing, I know this sounds like a strange name but she was named as a bottle fed abandoned calf and lost the tips of her ears when she was rescued one cold January morning long ago.
Now, No Ears had given us a lovely healthy curly white calf the day before and knowing some cows on instinct still insist on hiding their calves for a couple of days and isolate themselves from the herd I was not worried. I finished feeding quickly and then parked the tractor and turned it off, I stepped down and immediately two little white calves bolted past me making me smile and laugh out loud as they kicked up there hooves and bolted in the other direction. I walked over to the knoll not very far from those fully involved with the picking of the best morsels of hay cows and that is where I saw No Ears standing and looking down.
I was still thinking she was keeping her calf away from the herd as per her usual. The little curly white calf was curled up on the hay and appeared to be sleeping. I walked closer but No Ears, totally out of character for her, charged at me seemingly to protect her calf; I backed off and stayed away. I came to the conclusion at this time something was not right because she was too protective and the calf did not lift its head.
I went about my normal routine of walking among the other cows and checking for signs that anything was going on with the Moms to be and then I watched as No Ears finally walked over to the hay and slid between two cows and began picking through the bale of hay, she was distracted so this was my chance. I quickly headed over to the new curly white calf curled up in the hay. It turned out the poor little bull was not sleeping, it looked like he had just passed away peacefully in his sleep; we may never know the reason. This sometimes happens in calving, there were no marks on him and even though I know it was just one of those fluke things that makes farm life extremely hard and still brings even after so many years of farming those tears, it is a fact of life.
No Ears must have noticed me hovering over her calf so she bolted back towards me; I hurried away knowing she needed this time. I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket and phoned My Hero to tell him the sad news, he told me to stay away from No Ears and he would give the calf a proper burial when he came home. I promised I would as I watched from a distance a huge flock of crows fly over No Ears and her calf as she continued to lick its ear, tears flowed down my cheek. I seem to think that every time something like this happens that I am going to be tougher than the time before but I guess I will never get used to it.
Yes there are a lot of highs and lows in farming and as a matter of fact life in general, it can never be all sunny days but I truly believe we have to make the best of those days and moments that make us smile and laugh out loud and try to get through those sad ones as best we can.
The sun was shining and it started to warm up, I pulled off my fuzzy green hat and stuffed it in my vest and walked amongst the new calves that ran, jumped and chased each other and I smiled, yes this is the sunny moment I will focus on. I wipe that stray tear from my cheek with my dirty leather glove; life goes on. Rest in peace little guy.