Fall is on it way here and I know that winter is not far behind it. Not sure that I am ready for that yet as winter last year was one of the worst we have seen in a few years and it was another lesson for me about life and death on a ranch. The lessons were not all bad, we had our first Christmas calf and for the most part the herd came through a cold and heavy snow winter only a little worse for the wear. Of course seeing them now, you would never guess that the winter was bad, for they are fat and happy munching the day away in belly deep grass.
The one lesson that was the hardest was when I had to help with my first C-section. It was a cold clear morning at the end of February and we were just at the start of the calving season, so the hubby went out in the truck to cut the ice, put out feed and check on a cow that he had seen the evening before that looked to be close to having her baby. This was an older cow who had never had a problem before having a calf, so we were not too worried about her and in fact the hubby expected to find her that morning nursing a new baby.
My first hint that anything was wrong was when I got the call to get the vet bag, blankets, towels and get down to the pasture. When I got down to where the hubby was waiting for me he let me know that it looked like the cow had been trying to have the calf for a little bit of time and was just too tired to finish. The problem was my hands are the only ones small enough to get the chains on to pull the calf, but on that morning not even my small hands could fit. It was then that I was told to get ready, we needed to get the calf out and that meant a C-section. Now let me say this, I have had C-sections myself, I really don't want to see what was done to me in the version of a cow! However there was no choice so I did the next best thing, I started to ask the million and one questions that I felt I needed to know, all the while the hubby is busy getting all of his surgical gear ready.
I made it through the actual C-sections to be handed a wet, slimy and squirmy little solid black calf with the instructions "Get it dried off and warmed up". Okay, I figured I can do this part: dry and warm, right.
We are still not sure what happened or why, but the calf did not make it that day. I got it dried off and it was bawling for momma as she was getting finished up from her part of the delivery. Then the next thing I know the little calf went limp in my arms and despite even trying CPR she did not make it. I held her as her heart stopped beating and then cried my eyes out. You see this was the first time that I was able to be right there when one of our calves was born and I lost her. Even all these months later just the thought of it is enough to bring tears to my eyes. We buried her under a nice tree that day and I still visit it each trip to that pasture.
But what is taken away on one day is given on another, as a few months later I was able to help on another birth and I have gotten the joy to watch that baby grow in my back yard into the strong and pretty girl that she is today.
Not every lesson is easy to learn but some how it all works out in the end and it all reminds me to lean on my faith.