The dead calf was lying covered in snow, and the maternal cow wouldn’t leave its side. The calf had been dead for a good 24 hours but the determined cow, who required doctoring, wouldn’t budge. We got a lariat around the calf and the good mother followed as the calf was dragged slowly behind the truck all the way up to the corrals where we could give her the antibiotics she needed.
The knot in my stomach became a lump in my throat, watching that poor cow following pathetically behind her dead calf, her animal mind not understanding the situation, her instincts everything they should have been. A frustrating contrast to mama cows who birth their calves in a snowstorm and then forget about them. It would be easier if the bereaved mamas just walked away, but the tenacity they show can be heartbreaking. It is such a defeating sight – A good mother cow who wants a calf and is deprived of that calf. This storm, a series of storms and multiple nights of snow, has been deadly.
As I followed at a distance on a four-wheeler, a glimmer of movement caught my eye. I looked up and the word, “Wow,” escaped involuntarily, getting past that lump in my throat. The sky! What a glorious blue, clear as clear can be, and the whole depth of its blueness sparkling and shimmering with swirling snow. Where was the snow cloud? It was a wonderful sight. I looked out over the hayfields, still and soft like a painting, covered deep with insulating and moisture-bringing snow, snow that resulted in the loss of multiple calves but will be life-sustaining as the year continues. The trees were white with snow and frost. There was enough snow that the road was almost indistinguishable from anything else, just continuous white. It was spectacular. A beautiful and encouraging sight it was, seeing the clouds break and the sky clear and the sun rain down its invigorating warmth. As we came up to the barn, the sound of water running off the roof was like healing music. Water! Life-giving water. Spring is just around the corner.
One of the many paradoxes of life, the intermingling of heartbreak and hope.
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