R.I.P. – Thomas
7/21/15 – 12/27/15
There is good on a farm. There is joy. And on occasion, there is sadness. Today is one of the sad ones, and the Country Boy has a heavy heart. Mine is weighty, but his is down in his boots. He had to shoot a bull calf.
No matter how hard you try to keep your pastures and farm free from anything that may harm an animal – debris, holes, loose wire, etc. – there are hazards that you don’t always recognize as such. This bull calf loved to get inside the hay ring and enjoy the tendrils of grass that the other cows couldn’t reach. All we can figure is that he had trouble getting out of the ring, and ended up breaking his right hind leg.
A neighbor first spotted it as he drove by, and called us immediately. We were headed out to visit a couple of neighbors, but rerouted ourselves to the front pasture. Sure enough. The leg was beginning to swell and there was a gash on the lower portion of the leg. We watched for a bit, as he was standing on the leg. Our hopes were that he had just sprained it. But alas, when he finally raised it, the bottom portion was swinging freely. Our hearts sunk.
We had three options. It is possible that, had we been able to get him to the barn rather quickly and given him a dose of antibiotics for any infection, there was a chance we could have fed him out for 30 days and slaughtered him for beef. The problem (at least, to me) with that is there would always be a question as to the safety of the beef. The second option was to contact our vet, and have him set the leg. Doing that would require well over two grand, and the calf’s quality of life just wouldn’t be that good. The third option was the only one we felt we had. So Randy got his rifle.
To me, there is nothing sadder than the sound of a firearm going off, knowing that a life just ended. As a Farm Wife, I know that we raise our animals for food, but I never have to hear that sound. Even with chickens, it’s a matter of a swift cut with a knife – no sounds. Yet, in this instance, I also knew it was the end of suffering. In my heart and mind, I know I have to weigh both sides of the coin. And I will remove suffering from the equation long before I would consider my stomach.
Today is also a reminder of the circle of life. As one calf lost his, another one is in the process of being born. Suzabelle, the Belted Galloway, is laying down in a quiet corner giving birth to a baby. Our concern factor is a bit elevated right now, due to the earlier circumstances, so we are watching a bit more closely to make sure tragedy doesn’t strike twice.
Both things keep me mindful that there is beauty even amidst the trials and tribulations of life. Sometimes, we are so caught up in the hardships that we fail to step outside ourselves and view what is going on from an objective view point. Consequently, we are unable to see that small glimmer of hope and light that is trying to burn its way through the darkness. To me, that light and hope is a reminder that God is in control, and He firmly has our back.
This holiday season has been so busy and hectic, that I have failed to search for that glimmer. Today has served as a reminder that, if I just place everything in His hands, things will turn out for the best. So once again, the Country Boy and I have lowered our chins to our chests and offered up the trials, tribulations and joys to the One who keeps us close. It’s all we can do.
Stay tuned to see how this day turns out. And say a prayer for all the residents of Paradise Plantation – both human and animal. We can certainly use them right now.