Yesterday I spent a good share of the day driving around with a cold baby calf on the floor board of the pickup. Yep, there's no denying it...calving season is upon us. I gotta admit, though the busiest time of the year, I always look forward to calving. There's something about baby calves that makes this country gal thankful for her way of life.
When all goes well it sure can be a fun time. However, it's always best to prepare for a few bumps in the road. Last week we decided it was time to get Reba, our trusted nurse cow, ready for her part in the R4 calving season.We needed to wean her 700 pound calf but didn't want her to go dry so we needed a replacement. When some orphans came through the sale barn ring, Rob thought he better get his hand in the air. Baby calves aren't real cheap these days but we got ourselves one. The little heifer ain't much to look at but she was bawling for a mama and the price was right so we brought her home. Now drafting babies onto a new mother sometimes requires a bit more patience than my loving husband always has to give, so I assumed that once he exhausted his supply, I would need to be there to take over. Well Rob brought that baby into the barn with Reba, aimed her towards the goods, and assumed that they would be drawn together like some magical magnetic force. "Oh honey", I thought "if only it were that easy."
Wouldn't you know it?! That baby went to sucking like it was competing in the dinner bell derby. I couldn't believe it. I guess I'm glad that calf proved me wrong BEFORE I assured the hubs that his simple plan wouldn't work. However, in my defense and in my experience...it rarely happens so easily.
Shortly after buying Reba last year we put her right to work. Over the course of our calving season she probably had ten different babies on her. She would keep a calf fat and sassy until we had another cow to put the baby on. Then when it was time to go to pasture we decided she was up to the task of raising a couple more calves through the summer. We didn't have any spare babies at the time but a friend of ours was at the sale barn and brought us home a couple healthy orphan calves. And by healthy I mean 'huge'. They each weighed close to 200 lbs. We had thrown the two calves in with Reba but the three wanted nothing to do with each other. I knew I needed to go help them come to a mutual understanding. After handling calves half that size, the task seemed a bit daunting but hoping for a "good job, honey" from the hubs, I headed down to the corral.
I had come up with a system which had worked fairly well for me. I would grab the baby by the tail, pull him around to where I wanted, straddle him and get busy showing him where the goods came from. I figured if that worked for the little guys, with any kind of luck it would work for a larger version. So I grabbed a tail...and that's when the rodeo started.
I went out for one year of high school track though I didn't have much success at it. This could be due to my lack of ambition, desire and talent. I also attribute it to the length of my stride...it has none. But as that calf took off making rounds in that corral with me in tow, I think I might have been able to match an Olympic gold medalist step for step. That calf was determined to get away and I was equally determined to hold on for dear life.
Trying to lose me, the calf made a turnabout. Momentum as well athletic challenges kept me from making the same move. Now I won't call it the best open field tackle you have ever seen but somewhere amidst this riggamaroll...calf and ranch wife collided. It was a tangled web of arms, legs and hooves but when it came to a halt, I found myself on top. That poor calf just lay there. I am certain he was in shock over the 'come to Jesus' meeting he had just encountered. I was trying to get my wits about me so to use my current status to my advantage. I reached up to adjust my cap which had fallen over my eyes in the tumble. Low and behold, right there about two inches from our 'pile' was Reba's four finest points!
Wanting to make my move before the calf got his second wind, I wallored around so I could grab him by his face with a thumb in his mouth to open it while my other hand grabbed the milk handle. I awkwardly milked like a mad woman, aiming for the calf's taste buds. After I hit the mark a few times, my furry wrestling opponent realized the point I was trying to make. Boy, you would have thought that calf was tasting milk from the promise land! Before I knew it,he was on all fours and latched on like Reba had been his mother from the get go.
I am certain it was not text book calf drafting nor was it pretty, but by golly, the job got done. I got up and dusted myself off, all the while thanking the good Lord for the isolation of the R4 ranch providing some privacy for this particular display. I looked at that calf, filling his tummy like it was his idea and mumbled some encouragement. "Well, ya dummy, that's all I wanted for ya in the first place,."
That stupid calf did get me thinking though. I haven't always had a thirst and a hunger for the Word of God and His way of living. I've had my own ideas of what I thought I wanted. My poor parents kept bringing me back to what was right. When I finally fell flat on my face, left thirsty by things I thought would satisfy, I knew right where to turn...to Jesus and His Springs of Living Water;the same place they had shown me over and over again. Unfortunately, like that calf, I had to be wrestled few times. I am sure it hadn't always been a lot of fun for them, but I am sure grateful they didn't give up.
You know he never really said it...but I think that baby calf was grateful too.
And by the way...I did get that "good job, honey."