Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life and Death

The doggies and I started yesterday in the usual way. Going for our morning walk. Cleo gets very excited, jumping up and down and running back and forth. Xena wagging her tail. We set out across the field to a path that runs along our fence line parallel to our driveway. I cleared it of fallen trees and saplings and I like to take it as an alternate route down to the Savory gate. It's like a walk in a park. Spruce, Fir, Willow and Poplar standing watch. In places the undergrowth is crowded out and the ground mostly bare, covered with old Pine and Spruce needles. I was also checking out a half dozen beetle killed pine, some two feet across that I will take down for winter wood in the next couple of days. A hundred feet of forest separates the fence line path from the driveway, effectively hiding it and giving the illusion of being deep in an arboreal forest.

Usually the dogs scurry, back and forth through the path, always coming back to see how I am doing. I imagine they wonder why I don't relish the pursuit of the chattering tree thing, checking out the old log that houses the ferocious vole. Sniffing the trail of various forest beasts that have passed through, but maybe, hopefully, lie in wait, just over that hillock or behind the next fallen tree.

This day there was none of that once we entered the path. They just disappeared. I couldn't see or hear them. I called them and they came back, staying with me for a few moments and then gone again. Not gone far but out of sight. With cows wandering all over the property I don't want them to be beyond my eye or hearing. I had to repeat the come back whistle a few more times.

When I crossed the driveway at the end of the path, just at the bend I looked up the hill and saw a black and white Belgian Blue cow lying in the road. The dogs were at her face, just looking at her, no barking, not trying to harass her in any way. Touching her face like she was a friend of theirs they hadn't seen for a while.

I called them and they came to me, whimpering. I walked slowly towards the cow not wanting to startle her, but something just didn't look normal.

As I got up to her she tried to turn on the road towards me. If a cow could show despair she was doing it. I looked up the road side bank and about five feet above her I could see the cause. A large white calf was lying in a tramped down hollow, at first I thought the calf had been attacked by some animal and disemboweled.

Our walk was over for the day, we went back to the house, the dogs reluctant to leave, to phone my neighbor and give him the bad news. We arranged to meet where the cow was and I went back down the hill. He showed up and looked the situation over. He doesn't speak clearly as he had some trouble with throat cancer and neck breaths. I didn't have trouble understanding what he was saying. The calf had been still born. Sometimes when they give birth the cows will have a nerve pinched paralyzing their back legs. That's why she was just lying in the road, unable to rise. I stayed with her while he went back for his horse trailer and reinforcements. I sat close by on a rock just talking to her. It was all I could think to do. He returned about an hour later with his trailer and daughter, another local farmer. The three of us couldn't move her into the trailer so we just waited for some more help he had called. Really all we could do was just be with her, keeping her restrained with a neck cinch, his daughter, Sally at the haunches,whispering soothingly to her girl, me at the head. I just kept rubbing her neck and scratching behind her ears. She seemed to like it as much as my dogs do. As I looked at her a big tear slid from her left eye and dribbled down her face. Surprised, I mentioned it, Sally explaining she believed animals had feelings. At that moment, by the side of my driveway, I had no room for doubt.

When another four hands showed up we managed to pull the cow up a ramp improvised from a sheet of plywood and into the horse trailer. I went with my neighbor, in his truck, everyone else in another to help get D-7, the stricken cow to the safety of the barn. There was a rifle leaning against the transmission on the passenger side. It wasn't hunting season. Sally had made reference to it. Apparently Larry, the farmer, had told her it was for her if she didn't work hard enough on the cattle pull. Every one laughing at that story. Lightening the moment.

We got D7 back to the barn, propped her up with fresh smelling hay. Penicillin ministrations to follow. Apparently the paralysis can last for a week.

Getting the truck and horse trailer out of the barnyard turned into a bit of an act. I'm pretty sure there is a country and western song to describe it. The Chevy got stuck, being pulled by the Ford, talk of getting the tractor, another Chevy, loaded with wood ballast, pitching in to finally get the job done. I offered to get my Toyota and pull them all out..

Several hours after I had left I returned home. My day hadn't unfolded the way I had it planned. But it had unfolded never the less. Later in the afternoon my friend, Chief Joseph had a sweat. He wanted to try out some new "grandfathers", sweat lodge rocks that he had been gifted from a sweat lodge holder who had a supply from Nazko near Quesnel. They were very strong. The hottest sweat I have been to. I needed to remind myself that the sweat could melt my Soul, but it couldn't melt my skin. I needed it.

Today is my 59th birthday. I am eating right, losing weight, working toward running a Marathon. I asked my wife for a red Ferrari for my Birthday and suggested she dye her hair blond. She pointed out I already have a blond ( Xena) in my life, and gave me an orange Husqavarna instead. Maybe she knows what I really needed!
Hope you get what you really need today.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

An exciting day. Belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
Jean

Daughter One said...

You're my Dad. That's all I need.

i heart u.

Denise E said...

Happy Belated Birthday Art. Keeping active helps keep the youthful feeling so GO - Arthur - GO!!! Hair straight back!!

Yeoman said...

Happy belated birthday!