Death is one of life's lessons. Ironic, isn't it?
We would like to shield our kids from the difficult things in life. But if we didn't experience some of the hard things as kids - when we're in the midst of a family who loves us - wouldn't it be tougher in the long run?
A 4-Her named Katie came to the County Line last week and took home a bucket calf. It was a twin. Randy had been feeding it since it was born February 27.
The mom had claimed only one of the babies. Randy had carried it to the barn to get keep it dry and warmer.
Then he bottle fed it, twice a day for a week and a half.
It never seemed to thrive. He would have to rouse it from its bed of hay and encourage it to stand up and eat.
But it seemed to improve a little bit, so he called the 4-H family who had asked for a bucket calf. He told Katie's mom he wasn't sure how the calf would do, but they could try.
Unfortunately, the calf died. (We had already told them we didn't want to be paid for the calf until we knew for sure it would survive.)
When Katie's mom called, I told her to tell Katie that we were sorry about her calf. And it was her calf, even though she had only had it a couple of days. I told her that we knew the calf wasn't the strongest calf and that it wasn't Katie's fault that it died.
It's just another example of how 4-H teaches life lessons. Death is a part of life. Animals and plants and people die. Some are sick and some are old. Some are neither sick or old, but they still die. Sometimes it doesn't make sense.
But Katie has now experienced the death of someone she loves. And she'll know that she can get through it.
We often used death on the farm as a teaching moment. A dead kitten on the road in front of our house taught Jill and Brent that there were consequences for crossing the road in front of traffic. It made them aware.
Brent had a 4-H steer die at the fairgrounds one year. Thankfully, he had two steers at the fair that year, so he was still able to sell one in the premium auction. But losing a market steer probably knocked $1,000 from his college fund. He had fed and watered that steer every day. He had spent time working with it so it would lead during the fair. It was a lesson that no matter how hard you try, things don't always work out. You have to pick yourself up and try again the next time.
Life goes on ... even in the face of death.