Have you ever had one of those days where things just always seem to go wrong, even with good things happening? A type of day when no matter what you do you just can’t get ahead? Well, I had one of those days.
The day started out good enough, I woke up (one more day blessed), had my coffee and did my early morning computer time. A normal enough day so far. The weather looked decent and we were able to get stuff done around the farm like looking over the harrow to make sure it is ready for spring work. Also, no rain (although it was predicted tomorrow).
I have a chat with my brother who is working on the farm with me in the morning to discuss his progress and things that he is doing well and things that need improvement. Great conversation and work starts out fine. It was normal enough until late afternoon.
Logan was home from school and said we had a dead cow (third one in two weeks) and it wouldn't get up when he mooed at it from the barn. I told him it doesn’t always work making a sound at them, sometimes you have to walk out there. He walked, came back and said the cow was fine but we had a new calf. Great, the bull did his job last year and calving season is starting.
Now the fun begins. We get the needle, medicine, ear tag, and rubber bands (in case it is a male) and head out as a family to the pasture. Sure enough a beautiful little calf lying in the field. It gets up and starts moving…a nice healthy calf. Even better. But who is the momma?
Turns out momma is a first calf heifer whose bag is not dropping and doesn’t want the calf. Chris (little brother) gave the calf its shots, put the tag in, and banded it. Then we got him up and sent him off for momma to find. No go. We spent about 45 minutes trying to get momma to hook up with the calf to no avail.
As I get into the Kubota to go out of the pasture with Rhonda, Logan starts walking over and goes through the crust into really soft stinky manure…in his baseball cleats. He had to leave in less than ½ hour. We get out and I wash off his shoes and get them cleaned up. I leave the Kubota parked by the pump house in the middle of the farm.
After washing the shoes off I go in the office to get the colostrum (the first milk) out of the freezer to thaw. A newborn mammal needs the colostrums to kick start its immune system and we had milked a cow to keep some on hand, just in case.
As this goes on Rhonda is ready to take Dillon to drivers education and Logan to his game. We say goodbye (I am preoccupied with my thoughts) and she promptly gets into her car to go. However, when backing up she runs into the Kubota bending the tailgate that Logan sat on for the calf and dented the hatch on her Trailblazer, right rear quarter panel, and broke the backup lens.
After I rant and rave about the situation (not at her or anyone else) I get back to business of dealing with the calf. Momma still is not taking it after Chris and I feed it the colostrum. We carry the calf to the shop and make a nice pen for it to warm up and stay the night. And I miss a meeting.
I know this may sound trivial because there are other people in this country and world that have bigger problems than this. Keeping an even head and dealing with the problems head on gets the job done instead of dwelling on it.
As I was relaxing in the evening with my thoughts, the newspaper, and the NBA playoffs I started thinking about the bigger problems agriculture has…image. Movies like Food Inc., organizations like PETA, and magazines like Time all want to paint a picture that farmers, ranchers, and agriculture is bad. There is no compassion for anything we do.
It is my responsibility to make sure the people and animals that are in my care get the best possible chance. Sometimes things don’t always work out, but this time it did. It is moments like this on a farm, overcoming adversity, that’s what makes being a farmer awesome.
What we do every day on a farm or ranch is completely contrary to what is in movies, magazines and on the websites of organizations that have an agenda above any animal’s welfare. It is not everyone who can save a life and make it prosper every day.
Momma still won’t take the calf, but Dillon and Logan will have a new project and a new responsibility on the farm. They will learn another farm lesson that can only be taught by experience. One of them might even have an FFA or 4-H project. However, the memory of their experience will last with them for the rest of their lives, regardless of people against agriculture.