All Creatures Great and Small…Lifting Baby Cows

This is not yesterday's baby, but the one from two weeks ago.

This is not yesterday’s baby, but the one from two weeks ago.

I live on a farm. It is spring, life is happening everywhere around me. The flowers and trees are budding, And today, All Creatures Great and Small became a reality.

A little calf is now without a mom. Only a few short hours were given for the calf to nuzzle her mom’s face and suckle her milk. Mama cow lost a lot of blood and the vet was unable to push her insides back to where they belong. Her barn mates could smell the impending death and they crowded us for a look, just like rubbernecking drivers who cannot stop themselves from looking at a traffic collision.

I am very proud of C who helped the vet and the owner with this bloody, messy, and ultimately futile, endeavor.  Moments like these do define what you are truly capable of. Both he and I had no trouble with the blood and the gore of the life sack that fell out of the poor cow. One of the other livestock owners, however, hovered outside the barn because he was unable to see blood.

In hindsight my experience was both clinical and spiritual. During the time that there was hope, I massaged the cow’s head and the bone above her eye, speaking softly into her ear believing that she would relax enough to let the humans save her. When asked to pick up the baby calf, covered in blood and placenta, to carry her to her mother, it was not disgusting or icky, it was amazing. I touched a living creature who was born only 1 hour ago!

I shooed large cows with horns away from the scene, and kept vigil over the calf, who kept getting under foot as her mother struggled endlessly with the pain she must have felt. And then her colon followed the uterus and that was it.

The calf was able to feed from her mother one last time and they collected the milk for the long night ahead. And when the vet finished injecting mama with the death syringes, the little one came over to nuzzle her one last time. It am sad but I did not cry. I eat beef, chicken, fish, and turkey. I have stopped eating lamb and (for the most part) pork. I try to eat more vegetables than meat. So although I am sad I am not a hypocrite.

It is hard to be an omnivore and live on a farm in the spring.


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