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.

 

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