Monday, February 15, 2016

Hoping for a Fairytale Ending

This little twin went to market. So did his brother. Not all stories on a farm have a fairytale ending.

But in my mind this morning, I thought about a little 4-Her getting up before school to bottle feed a bucket calf. Maybe Little 649 has a new name now, a real name. Maybe a little pony-tailed girl measured out the milk powder, added water and about got knocked over as the little calf eagerly had his breakfast. She gave him a pat and headed back to the house for her own breakfast before the school bus arrived.
Maybe at another farmyard, a little boy pulled on his manure-covered boots and headed out to a pen to feed No. 648. He called him by a new name and laughed as the calf eagerly slurped down a bottle.

Well, that's the story in my mind, anyway.
On a Facebook post on February 4, I wrote: "Double the pleasure. It looks like the mama will claim both bull calves born today."
And she did. Both babies were being fed, but then the mama started going downhill. Last Wednesday night, after we got home from taking Kinley and Brooke back to their mama, Randy and I had a nighttime mission.

I don't recommend loading cattle in the dark, if you can help it. I shone a flashlight on the barn door to help guide Randy backwards. After a few attempts, we were lined up right. Then, our flashlight beams hit a grisly sight - a dead coyote along the lane in the barn where the cow would need to walk. That was enough to spook man or beast, so Randy got rid of it.

The poor mama was confused by these crazy humans trying to get her to go into a trailer in the dark. It took several attempts. It was equally challenging to load the babies in the back of the trailer, and Randy ended up carrying both of them.

The taillights on the trailer wouldn't work, so we couldn't take the cow anywhere at night. The next morning, she was dead. So Randy took the two little calves to the sale. And there is where my fantasy story commenced. I am hoping that two 4-Hers will be caring for the calves and using them as a bucket calf project for a county fair this summer. I can picture those 4-Hers in my mind because both Jill and Brent loved the bucket calf project.
A page from Brent's 4-H book

We didn't get a check from Pratt Livestock in the mail on Saturday. With the President's Day holiday today, we won't know until Tuesday how much the little calves brought at the sale. But I hope they'll become "priceless" to a couple of 4-Hers. At least, that's how the story goes in my mind.
And a page from Jill's 4-H record book


  1. I like your fairy tale end to the story & choose to believe that is how it really happens. Thanks for sharing a tough story that provides a good opening for parents to talk about the tough things in life.

    1. Thanks, Debora. One of my goals with the blog is to tell the story of our farm. It's disingenuous not to tell the hard parts, too.

  2. I hope so too...the hard parts can be oh so hard!

  3. I'm sorry to read about the loss of your cow. It is never a good story to have to tell, and fortunately one that is not very frequent.

    Do you get many coyotes on your farm? We don't have any problems with wild dogs or dingoes on our farm, only the odd fox which is more a problem for sheep farmers, not cattle farmers.

    1. We can hear coyotes howling at night and we see them running through fields sometimes. Some people have problems with coyotes and baby calves or baby lambs, but we never have. I, too, would say it's a bigger problem for sheep farmers here.