The Calf
Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio

He was born in the wind and the rain. A product of his mother’s love and her pain. A beautiful little calf-his mother’s first. An event like this should never have been cursed. His mother was brave and worked very hard. But in this case, death played the last card. Mother made it-with help from the vet. Her wounds were fixed-like a leg you’d set. Right now, I feel like I’ll never again laugh. Tomorrow might be better-but today I buried the calf.
I had been hauling sugarbeets that day. Calving should have been done but this heifer had gotten a little late. I drove home that afternoon and noticed her laying on her side with her legs straight out. You don’t see that much with cattle. They usually lay with their legs under them or just out to the side. I walked over to check on her and saw she had given partial-birth to a little bull. Seeing this beautiful animal laying there weak from her efforts on a rainy, cold day removed any doubt that the Devil is a real part of our everyday lives. I wished I could apologize to this animal for not being there but she needed help, not sentiment.
Dr Johnson came out and was able to make things better. The heifer was so weak that I just put a halter on her and held her out in the pasture. I made her as comfortable as possible, buried the calf and went inside the house.
The heifer healed but was not able to be bred until well after the other animals. My brother, Steve has both Spring and Fall calving so I sold the heifer to him and hoped she would be able to calve and enjoy a long and productive life. She deserved this at the very least. Months later I stopped by my brothers to visit and we went to look at his cattle. There was a gorgeous, black cow quietly moving her calf around. It was my heifer. I have no children so cannot know how a parent feels when his child graduates or gets married but I felt both my eyes and my heart fill. I felt like crying the day my heifer lost her calf. I feel like crying every time I see her now too. But now I feel like crying because I wish I still owned her. I can live with those tears.