I stood there watching the vet check her; this little tri-colored cow that I just adore. He kept pushing deep into her hips, into the abyss that is supposed to be holding a tiny little critter, and finally he pulls him arm out and says, “She’s dry”. I feel myself start to tear up; I look at my husband and see the look of disbelief on his face. She makes another of five of our 2 year olds that didn’t breed back. I can see he is taking this a lot harder than I am. He is just starting to feel the reality that things don’t also go perfectly; a hard lesson I learned long ago. Once we run everything through the chute, and look out over at the nine head of cows standing in the dry pen, I start to feel the tears welling up again. It breaks my heart to see such young cows stand there looking so tough; what is even harder to take is that with cattle prices so high, there is no sense in keeping them back to try again next year. I can’t help but feel sorry for these girls; they gave up their entire body to raise some pretty incredible calves; and in turn, this is the thanks they get.
I often wonder what the cows are thinking; and I like to think I am pretty privileged to own some of them. These cows help pay the bills (or perhaps they are the reason for the bills?) Even though they raise my blood pressure, and they piss me off at times, they are still a great stress reliever. I feel like no hour spent around livestock of any kind is time wasted. They have taught me so much in my 28 years. For example:
-Patience: If you are in a hurry, a cow will make sure to take the longest way back home, or the shortest way though the corrals. Either way, you are going to be late.
-Persuasion: it is more than just words, you dummy; actions speak louder anyways.
-Strength: quityerbitchin- those tough old birds popp out a 90 pound calf in three-degree weather and turn around and lick it clean. What did you do today?
-Humility: If you can’t laugh at yourself, well, then you better enjoy watching those old biddies laugh at you (and yes, I am pretty sure cows can indeed laugh).
-And of course, how to be humble: for there is nothing so special about you that will keep a cow from crapping all over you. I am sure they think everyone looks good in a layer of greenish-brown slop.
As hard as some of the other jobs I have had in my life, there is not one tougher than being a livestock producer. It is altogether awesome and gut-wrenching at the same time. I have found it doesn’t matter if you own one old milk cow or fifteen-hundred beef cattle, they are all a part of you. They don’t have to have names to have a personality or to be remembered. There is something about each and everyone of them that is a reflection of each of us; (I suppose it is important to keep that in mind the next time I start calling one a dirty old @!$#%$^#!!). If you are willing to watch them and listen to what they are saying, there is a lot to be learned from those cow-pie machines of the bovine variety. And I thank God everyday that there is.