Birth and Death All in One Day


Well today was my birthday and I think I will remember it for a while. I took the early morning to myself and went looking at some maternity clothes all by myself. It was relaxing, but it wasn’t too long before I was wanting to be home with my kids. Especially on my birthday. I ended up buying the girls a few cute things at a thrift store… a Laura Ashley top for Elisabeth as well as a warm, outdoor vest in a beautiful blue. Don’t worry, I’ll get pictures! Hannah a comfy nightie.

At around 3:00 I started making my birthday cake. I love cooking and have been wanting to make a cake for some time. I chose the Perfect Birthday Cake out of Dorie Greenspans “Baking From My Home To Yours”. I was just getting ready to start the delicious buttercream frosting when Matthew came up from the barn a huffin and a puffin. Our cow Mary was starting labor. He called our neighbor Carol who had Mary for 19 years and she shared that it would probably be in the next half hour before the calf would be born. So, I proceeded to make the frosting and Matthew went back down to the barn. A few minutes later he called on the cell phone and asked for a sharp knife. I didn’t ask questions and grabbed the knife he filets fish with and put on my jacket and shoes and quickly went down to the barn. Carol was already coming down our driveway as something was wrong. Mary was laying on the ground in her stall and kind of panting. Our other neighbors came and they with my husband put a chain around the calfs presenting hooves/legs. They waited for a contraction so Mary would push and they would pull. Well, the contraction came and Mary just didn’t have it in her to push. I think she was just to old and tired for this anymore. They pulled on the calf during the contraction and my husband started praying out loud. She started coming out and a few seconds later here she was. A beautiful, black, skinny, cute calf. We’ll post pictures tomorrow or Saturday when things slow down here.

We all thought all was well. A couple of minutes later they were all trying to stimulate the calf. She was coming around. In the meantime, Mary, her mother started to expel what I thought was the placenta. In just a few seconds it was all out. I asked, “Is that the placenta”? Carol said, “I hope she didn’t prolapse”. I didn’t know what she meant. They came over after tending to the calf and came to the conclusion that Mary did indeed have a prolapsed uterus. Carol said that it was not good (she is probably 65-70 and born and raised in the victorian house next to us. Her dad raised dairy cows, she’s been working cows her entire life). They talked for a minute they her daughter who’s about 41 asked how long they would have to get the colostrom out of Mary before she died. I was taken back. They were talking about our cow who we loved to feed, visit and scratch on her head, dying. They had Matthew call the butcher in Raymond to come out and went to get the gun. Carol was sad as this had been her cow that gave life to many. Mary would take any calves that would be rejected by their mothers or the mother died, onto her to nurse. She was very docile and just a mother hen (or cow). She could nurse up to 5 calves at one time.

I decided at that point to go on up to the house. I didn’t want to be there when she was shot or anything. I came in the house and washed up and finished my frosting. I did some light praying and just kept busy. I was surprised at how I was handling this and knew then that I was just in my calling that God had made me to be (a farmers wife and mother) so I was able to handle it okay. I still haven’t cried about it. I then started dinner. Matthew was going to make his spinach lasagna for me. I knew he was going through a hard time so I decided to get dinner together and in the oven for when it would be over. After about an hour Matthew came up and shared that it was over. The butchers came and pretty much shot her in the head immediately and they took her out to the back to bleed her. The girls were still down for their nap so I walked down after some time and they had her up in the air already. It didn’t really bother me like I thought it would. It’s just part of farm life I guess.

I went in to see Matthew and he was keeping the little calf warm. He was just loving it and handling the situation with Mary very well also. They had expressed enough colostrom for the calf from Mary before she died, so Matthew fed her this by the calf bottle a few times today. He’s down situating the stall for the calf right now, making it really small as Carol suggested to keep her warm. We named the new calf Carol Anne since Carol lost her favorite cow, though she sold her to us last year, she’s still Carols’ in a sense.

My poor husband though. What a day for him. We have a chicken with a mite and it needs to be killed so he has to do away with it tonight. He’s never had to kill an animal before. I feel sorry for him. But, we both know this is the way they used to do it. We love the farm life and know that there are going to be some tough times. Our children will learn a lot with life and death on the farm. It will be good for them. As Carol’s daughter shared earlier, you can’t help but feel close to God during situations like this. I totally agree. So, it was really a good day. A hard day for us, but a good day. We have a beautiful calf now and Matthew is already mommy to her. She’s drinking like a little champ.

So, we had some of the best lasagna I’ve ever made and cake as well. Beautiful cake and lasagna. It was a good birthday. A memorable birthday. A hard birthday. But all good. Thank You Lord.

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