| Ordinary Joys |

“The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.”

Hans Christian Andersen

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is to count our trials instead of our blessings. Rather than dwelling on what is “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy,” (Philippians 4:8) we focus in on everything that is exactly not those things. Rather than looking at the lilies of the field and the birds of the air and seeing God’s providence for them and so trusting in His providence for us (Matthew 6:26-30), we look at the ways we feel that God is giving us the short end of the stick.

May I never grow calloused to God’s simple blessings. Reminders of His kindness. Miracles found in the most mundane of places. Ordinary joys.

Working Hard

Bess and Josie have learned that fun is to be had if an ATV is involved, and feeding the cows is their time to catch up on their morning nap. First, we all have a good howl (no, really) while Brad honks the horn for the cows to come in, and then it’s time for a nap.

It’s hard work being a cow puppy in training.

Ranch Wife Musings | Hard to Stop Smiling

Calving season by turns is a season of contrasts, of deflating defeat and ecstatic elation. In spite of best efforts, everything goes wrong. Then, in spite of the worst efforts, everything goes amazingly right. In spite of best circumstances, everything goes wrong. In spite of worst circumstances, everything goes right. Sometimes it seems you just can’t win.

Last week was pretty hard on the psyche, as my father-in-law would say. We lost calves daily, in situations that seemed so avoidable but really were just the frustrating way nature works, sometimes with us, sometimes against us. Cold and snow and frigid overnight temperatures were definitely fighting against us.

However, things started turning around over the weekend as temps began to warm, and we were excited Sunday morning to find a cow have not twins but triplets, a pretty rare occurrence. All were alive and full term. One had a birth defect, sadly, and nature took care of it pretty quickly, but the other two were lively little things. We snagged one from the cow to give to a different cow who lost a calf, so that was a win, since cows without calves aren’t kept around, and since most of the time twins can’t be raised by the same cow it was actually two wins.

Then yesterday, a tiny heifer started calving and wasn’t progressing. The calf was malpresented, with its head twisted to the side so it was basically being born upside down, which is not how things are supposed to work. We honestly weren’t overly optimistic – The heifer was tiny, and we had lost a cow and calf last week to a similar malpresentation. After a surprisingly successful pull, the calf was born without injury to the cow, but by all appearances the calf was dead. It’s tongue was horribly engorged, it wasn’t breathing, and its eyes had a deathly glassy look to them, with very little eye reflex. Efforts seemed fruitless, but after twenty or thirty minutes of viciously rubbing and drying the calf, encouraging airflow in the lungs, poking its nose, and eventually moving it roughly around (i.e. kicking it) to mimic mama’s rough licking and prodding, the calf was sitting up right, sneezing and shaking his ears. That’s a win. He wasn’t out of the woods, but what a neat save.

This morning, Brad woke me up to tell me the calf was standing. It took a little prodding, but the calf did it! That’s another win. Throughout the day, he’s been pretty spunky, is up and down and walking and appears to be nursing. Wins all around. He has some sort of umbilical defect which we’ll keep an eye on, so again not out of the woods, but again, what a neat save!

When you’re contending with cows and nature, you’re bound to lose a few rounds in spite of everything, and then win a few rounds, also in spite of everything.

This little guy makes it hard to stop smiling.

In Other’s Words | “A quiet and modest life”

“A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.” ~Albert Einstein

Ranch Wife Musings | Heartbreak and Hope

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.