The Stubborn Calf

It seems like a fella just got thrown right into fall around here, summer came to a screeching halt, got cool and rainy for a bit and now there’s a good run of dry sunny weather predicted for a week or more. So one adjusts. The lowland meadows couldn’t get the hay cut and baled off of them this summer because it was too wet. Now it carries the tractor fine so today I was down there cutting and tomorrow too. There’s the meadow hay to cut and bale, there’s firewood to make, (allot), there’s cattle to work, fall is busy on this outfit. There probably isn’t anytime of year I like better than right now with the fresh and cooler air and most of the summer work a memory. Looking at the cowherd, the calves are still with them a bit longer, I start thinking back to all the adventures and misadventures of the season and one thing comes to mind that taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.

This spring I was recovering from a rather painful operation and wrestling calves was out of the question so I was just praying for an uneventful calving season. Now our cows are some pretty good cow and the trouble makers have long since passed through the food chain. All was going pretty good considering the muddy season we had for calving. One Sunday after going to our little church in the morning I came home and was looking over some of the new cow/calf pairs and all looked good at first but a fella has some extra sense or something and a good looking pair just kept bothering me. I started to wonder if that calf sucked his mama yet and couldn’t quite be sure. Usually I can tell but I had some doubts with this one. I had help that afternoon so we walked the pair through the mud to our smaller loafing barn where I have a pen with a squeeze chute and headgate just for these occasions. Got em in there but didn’t lock mama up right away and I sat there watching the calf with its mama and after some time I had to make the decision to lock up mama and teach that stubborn calf to suck. He’d be right there, at the fountain of life, but would not open his mouth and take er in.  Locked mama up, and we cornered the calf, which by the way, was one loaded cannon! All the while I was praying that I wouldn’t rip myself open from the surgery which I was told would not be good news. First thing a fella does in this situation to get the calf thinking of milk is the old cowman trick, stick a finger or two into its mouth. Well, most of the time a light bulb lights up between their ears when a person does that, they start to suck one the fingers and then you just get em wrestled over to mama’s milk supply and bingo! But not this beautiful Angus calf. It just put that four wheel drive in reverse and he’d have no part of sucking at all. Plan “B”, milk mama a little bit, put milk in a bottle and shove the big rubber nipple into calf’s mouth as he was being held in place. Milk was pouring out the side of his mouth, but not one thing that resembled a sucking action. By this time I’m getting a little perturbed.  I knew this was the only time I’d have help for quite some days so then we went to plan “C”, which meant getting the stomach tuber out, mix up some milk and force some food into its stomach to buy a little time. I truly thought I was done for wrestling that 90 some pound calf so much, not to mention milking the Angus cow a short while before. Ain’t like milking ol’ bossy back on the dairy farms, no sir. These have kicks that could out pace lightening and then the cow will hold back her milk just to make things more interesting to boot. By the time we stomach tubed the calf I was soaking wet from sweat, shaking from over exertion having just spent weeks in the house doing nothing recovering from surgery. Allot of pain in my lower abdomen to worry me sick too. Got the calf fed that once and my help had to leave and I said maybe the calf would figure things out itself, which they many times do even in this situation. Kept the pair in the pen, hoping there’d be no more problems with other pairs and left them. I knew I couldn’t be wrestling any more and figured it was either the calf or me, so I decided me.

For the next week I checked on them all the time. The mother was a perfect mother, did everything right, been with the herd for years and never had a problem. The calf stuck with his mother, did everything right, except that is, to suck and get that life giving milk. The mama always was licking the calf, standing in the right positions, nudging the calf back to where the milk was like them real good mothers do. But that calf would have its nose right against the milk supply and wouldn’t take it. The days went by one after another, and i watched but didn’t have help around and the calf got skinnier and skinnier. When its mama got up, the calf would get up and they were the perfect pair, except that calf never took that free gift of life that was offered it day after day. On day nine the calf died, starved to death and I felt bad being helpless to really help. When something like this happens, when a calf dies, I never get used to it and always feel bad about it. This time more so because I was so helpless to wrestle life into it. The rest of the calving season went pretty good, there were some screw ups, but nothing like the calf that refused the milk.

A few weeks later I was thinking about it, about that time in spring and its like God spoke direct to my heart and said, “you were like that calf for years, and you’da ended up like him too, but near the last moments you grabbed onto the free gift of life.” I was stunned! It was so true, all those years Jesus was offering me the free gift of eternal life and I never took it. I was starving down, getting weaker and weaker, and not even realizing that life was right in front of my nose. Just like that calf I did allot of the right moves, I went to church, I followed along, but I never took that free gift of life till October 19, 2005. Life came into me from then on and I ain’t letting go. And let me tell you, from durn near starved down to growing by leaps and bounds. Yep, God musta spoke to me and showed me one incredible story, my story, the story of the stubborn calf.


Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Old Lew and the Pot Bellied Stove

It was cold out. In the north country that doesn’t mean freezing, it means maybe 60 degrees colder than that. The wind was howling outside and when the work is done you don’t linger around. Dark out by four thirty in the afternoon and a fella just heads for cover. Take off a good twenty pounds or more of jackets coveralls, boots, gloves, fur caps and wonder if any body parts froze up. The cows were hunkered up with plenty of hay in front of them at all times to stoke their fire in the gut. The night before I checked em and the thermometer said 47 below, those cows never even laid down, they got in a tight group and kept lifting their legs in order to keep some blood flowing and not freezing. I do remember those days in my younger years and there’s one special memory that keeps running through my head during weather like that. Its about a guy named Lew, an oldtimer that was born in 1900. A friend of mine and I miss him. He died in the year 2000, made er to a hundred and never went to an old folks home, just stayed out on his small ranch and had himself a few Herefords near the end. By the end he couldn’t drive a car any more so he drove around on his little Ford tractor when ever he wanted to go some where close by. I used to visit Lew, and my favorite times were those cold winter nights. I’d have to go out every hour or so and start the pickup so it would still turn over because of the cold, but a feller didn’t think anything of it. Those evenings around Lew’s old potbellied stove are some of my fondest memories.

Being born in 1900 a person was in a world not all too much different that the time since creation. Lew never seen a car till he was a teenager and a little later for the first airplane. He was from a large family and sometimes in those days that meant just taking off when you’re in your mid teen and make a go of it on your own. Lew and myself would sit pretty close to that blazing hot pot belly stove because that old time house wasn’t exactly weather tight and they had no insulation. He’d get that stove where it would turn red on the side, had a huge pile of hard maple limbs cut up outside the porch just for the evenings and later he’d put in a night block or two when it was time for him to get to bed under a thick feather tick. Sittin close to that stove a fella would almost start on fire on the side close to the stove and probably be freezing on the other side. Typical back then was the curled up wall paper in the close area around the stove, curled up from the intense heat in that corner of the kitchen.

When Lew struck out on his own as a young teenager he was in practically every state west of the Mississippi at one time or another working for cattle outfits or grain farms. And his stories held me spell bound. At that age he worked mostly in Arizona and western North Dakota, both not having been settled all that many years before. Most of the time when you signed on to an outfit the owners were the original settlers from a few decades before and seen the opening of the west. They knew open range, they knew how the land was when it was first settled. The stories were amazing and one thing about Lew, he didn’t stretch the truth. Personally my favorite stories were when he was working for years on different outfits on the hi-line, which is mostly Montana, but I always put northwestern North Dakota in that too. A new land that was opened up by the Great Northern railroad. Making it possible to ship out cattle by train and get supplies in to and from Minnesota. I know the area well and could just see what he’d be talking about in my mind.

Another thing that struck me years ago was Lew’s faith, something I didn’t even have at the time, but he planted some seeds in me faithwise and some memories as well. Lew was a simple man by all appearances, but held allot of knowledge inside of him. He’d know about me screwing up, but never ran me down or condemned me for anything. Always calm, always deliberate in what he’d say, I knew I was in the presence of a man with wisdom. He’d tell me about “wolfin” in the winter in the very early days on the hi-line. Large packs of wolves, hungry, and they were reeking havoc with the livestock back then. Earned extra money in winter doing that, both from the ranchers and the county bounties. He’d talk about how the packs would come circling as he’d be riding his horse, or be driving a wagon, always with rifle and pistols. And they’d use em.

Sitting here tonight I miss old Lew. Knew him for a few decades, went to his funeral and remember with a smile how he’d tell his stories. I know Lew is in heaven, without a doubt. He trusted Jesus in everything. There ain’t nothing new about cowboys trusting Jesus and I know that for a fact. They see His creation all around them every day. I think I might start looking arround for an old pot bellied stove to sit around come winter.

Published in: on September 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: , ,

Believe Him

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

 Glory to God this Sunday evening, a beautiful day in the northland, almost too beautiful, was in the 80s again and will be for one more day according to those that supposedly know. In for the evening now, was out in a pasture a little bit ago and following Sunday tradition there were some cattle out. They only get out on Sunday’s, that’s a rule around this place. But they’re in now and so am I. Went to church this morning and that’s the last time till a couple weeks from now, will be on the road next weekend preaching. Figure when I come home from that I’ll have plenty of time to get the escaped Sunday cows in again. But the season is changing, the grass is getting to the point where the cows ain’t all that happy with it anymore. Everything changes, constantly changing but the verse up above is one of those verses I hang on to when all else seems to be getting out of control. Jesus ain’t changing with man’s times, no He ain’t and that’s something a person can stand firmly on.

 Used to be years ago when a fella was just a life long church goer that there was no such thing as a Jesus that is the same as He was in the Bible. Seems like He was a “was” and someday He’d be a forever and ever, but for now it was just the same old, same old. Once heard a feller on the radio, some Christian expert, that said God doesn’t do things like in the Bible days cause nowadays we don’t need Him to do those things and instead He gave us the Bible to guide us through life nowadays. But he was persistent saying that God did not preform miracles or do things like when Jesus was in the flesh or the first apostles walked the earth. In other words, this man was preaching total unbelief in the verse up above. Yes he sure was. No wonder Christianity has fallen into such a humdrum religion.

 But one flaw in this unbeliever’s thinking. If the Bible is to guide us, how can we get guided in unbelief. If the Bible says Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, why ain’t He now if that’s the case? In other words we are to read the Bible and be guided by it, but not to believe it. Well, that’s exactly what it boils down to! The unbelief is staggering in Christian circles today and I am so thankful that Jesus is the same today, and that He moves by faith in Him. And He always moves by faith in Him. Not just when a bored God figures He wants to make a move. Oh folks, without belief in what the Bible says the only thing a person has is dead letter religion. One might be saved, having accepted Christ, but after that leads a life almost totally apart from Him because of unbelief.

 Well, folks will say, “if its God’s will He’ll move”. That’s true, but God’s will is spelled out clearly in the bible and we are to stand on His Word. God said He will provide. How many believe that? No where does it say that maybe God will provide if He feels like it at the time or we’ve been good enough. Nope. A fella got to trust in Him. Gotta trust the “fact” that He’s the same today, in everything. He doesn’t change, His will doesn’t change, His response to our faith doesn’t change, not one bit.

 I tell you, its a whole new way of life when a person believes God, believes His Word, because that’s when heaven can invade earth, through belief, trust, faith. Believing that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He’ll do. Don’t get caught in mans fallen wisdom that says those days are over with. These are just folks that don’t hardly believe and want others to come down to their level. Believe God, only believe, and watch Him move!

We Walk By Faith

Well, its a Saturday evening here on the home place and I’m plum tuckered out tonight. Didn’t do anything big or special to make me tuckered out, just allot of little things with the cattle today. Plus I’m on the verge of starting silage making which is intense when we start. Hoping to get that done in a week or so and behind us so I can get going on fall jobs that I enjoy. Not that I don’t enjoy making a couple thousand tons of silage, smells good and don’t itch, but its one of those things that I’d rather have behind me than in front of me. Just getting a few things ready for church tomorrow, got some speaking to do there, nothing much, nothing like last Sunday’s outdoor event where I was blown away by how good it went. Trouble is tomorrow I won’t be speaking with my cowboy hat, durn. Every day is a bad hair day for this cattleman.

 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Now one of my favorite subjects is faith, could talk about it till the cows come home, and if they’re out in a lush alfalfa field as they were today, (against my wishes), they ain’t coming home on their own anytime soon. One thing I know in life is that when we have some faith in Jesus, its a whole new ball game. Years ago I was so hungry for this, but I will admit, in religion its not important. There its more important to follow man made rules and such. Oh how many decades did I hunger for God, but always had religion instead.

Years back, when I finally gave up on religion and this old world and came to the altar something happened. Something incredible. I found what I had always been looking for. I found God! Finally! And found out that God is the same now as He was back in them Bible days of old. Right off the bat, without even realizing it, I was using simple faith. I’d read it in the Bible, let er soak in, and believe it, and as folks that know me say, “Tom, you learn it, you believe it, and you apply it!” Well, I don’t want to be a braggart, but looking back its true enough. And I couldn’t imagine any other way once a person comes face to face with a merciful and loving God.

A fella just gotta walk the walk by believing Jesus. Simple as that, just believe. Oh how I love simple because over the years I’ve found out that simple is the most powerful faith. Simply believing Jesus. And that’s when heaven comes to earth and there are no exceptions.

Published in: on September 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,