I woke up this morning at five-thirty expecting the cattle truck to be here by eight. The breeze felt chilly as I went out to turn on the water hose connected to the plastic trash can we move around for temporary watering. As I made my way to the corral to spend time with my cows for the last time, across the barn I heard the roosters crow as I closed the metal gate. They were waiting for me. My husband had gathered them up last night and bedded them down with hay and cattle cubes in the corral adjacent to the house. We could hear and see them if they stressed.
We don’t want to sell them, but we have no choice. They are losing weight in spite of the large feed bill we have incurred to keep them healthy during this drought.
I sat for a long time on the ledge of the concrete water tank feeding some of them cubes by hand – especially my treasured #20 and Mr Bull. I dipped a plastic gallon milk carton in the water and placed it on its side to run out slowly. Some came over to lick the water pouring out from the carton.
They were not used to being in a confined area together. Occasionally one would get out of sorts and start butting another one to make her charge the fence. The calves were amazed to see so many milk bags in one place – some couldn’t resist the temptation to cheat! Then, heads would butt again!
Finally, I remembered something I had seen in a movie a long time ago to calm cattle. I started humming a song. The first one to notice was Mr Bull. He slowly walked over to the ledge where I sat and stared at my eyes. For the first time, he stuck his nose through the bars and let me touch his face. As others noticed the sound, they stood silently still. The calves laid down on the hay-strewn ground in the sun. My husband kept me stocked with cubes to use when the spell was broken!
Finally, the truck arrived – I went back into the house to leave the loading to the men. With tears in my eyes, I have to remember this IS life. We have to be prepared for alternate decisions and actions brought by circumstances beyond our control. There will be years of good grass to come, and undoubtedly storms and drought. The blessing is to find the times in between to love and make memories with no regrets.