Sunday, May 22, 2011

Welcome to Farming

The first time I saw a cow butchered I was seven years old. I knew what happened to them when they left the farm, my parents never lied to me, but this time I wanted to see it. I can't explain why I wanted to see, I just did. It didn't upset me, it was just the way life worked. But I haven't forgot.

I haven't forgot any of them. The calf that was born dead.  The calf I found in the field after the vultures had found it. The yearling that broke her neck in the feeder. The heifer that broke her neck tied to the post. I remember them all.  In 30 years I've seen alot of death. 

Today we tied the the two cows and the calf to the back of the tractor and started the walk back to the pasture. We had made the same walk to the barn in January, when Smokey didn't want to walk.  Since the air smelled of fresh grass and the cows were itching to get out of the barn, I thought it would go more smoothly than last time.

Everything started out fine. Everything was going as planned. I had put halters on the cows weeks in advance, preparing them for the walk.  They were quiet as we started out, all walking perfectly. Then Toodles got scared and pulled tight. She was taking forced steps the whole way, but not dragging and falling like Smokey did in January, so we kept going.  This was nothing new, expected actually.

Then, with only 500 ft left to our walk Toodles fell. I went to her side to get her up. She wouldn't. We took off her halter and encouraged her by slapping her butt, but she wouldn't move. I don't know how someone knows when something is dying, but I can assure you that if you are ever in the situation, you will know.  I don't know why, but lying there in the road with her head in my hands, Toodles died. 

Toodles was due to calf any day.  Her calf was now dying too.  With two other animals, we had to keep going.  So Mart stayed with Toodles while I continued on to the field with the others. I love my husband dearly. Neither of us woke up this morning expecting him to have to cut open a dead cow in the road to do an emergency c-section. But he did. He tried. He did everything that could be done. But it was too late. The little heifer calf died with her mother. 

As shitty days go, this one ranks up there.  Toodles was a sweet, friendly cow. I won't soon forget her death but most of all the enjoyment I got from her.  I so wish this didn't happen but I don't know how I could have foreseen it, or prevented it.

With life comes death. Welcome to farming.


Neil said...

Sad. I'm sorry.

alejna said...

I'm so sorry. That sounds very, very hard.

Bon said...

just like that.

i am sorry, Misty. love to you & Mart.

Sue said...

Oh Misty, this was heart-breaking to read. I am so sorry it had to happen to Toddles and her calf in this way.

Dave Atkinson said...

So stark. Thank you for writing it. Most of us live so far from the normal cycle of life and death. We're always so much closer to it than we know.