Wheezy and I never really got along but we had an understanding. I was the boss and she would get feed and fresh water if she left me alone. She didn’t have this agreement with the rest of the herd though. She was pretty sure that one day she would be queen if she kept running the others out of the feeder or out of her way in general.
It was only a few weeks ago I was watching out the kitchen window. The herd was resting in the corral just enjoying the afternoon. All except Wheezy, she was wandering about. First up to the steers, she threw her horns at them and kept at it until they got up and left the area. She continued this until everyone was rearranged and out of her way. Sweet Caroline has spent the majority of her time here “bringing up the rear”, standing alone and eating alone because if she gets too close Wheezy would run her off.
Well Wheezy left a couple weeks ago. Her date with the butcher was moved up. I miss seeing the other set of horns in the pasture but otherwise I’m sorry to say that’s about all I miss about her. I know you’re not supposed to speak ill about the dead but I don’t think the rest of the herd is missing her either. Thelma, her surprise calf from this year found a surrogate mother is Sweet Caroline and has been doing just fine.
The calm in the barn that was before now seems a bit chaotic and we never realized. I can only remember a couple times that really stick out as times that things got a little sketchy. Even at that there was never a time that everyone could line up at the feeder at the same time or even all be in the barn together. Now, they line up and eat together, there is no running frantic circles in the barn to get out the door. No one is jumpy or constantly watching over their shoulder.
I knew that some animals can stir up the bunch or teach others bad habits. I knew that Wheezy gave everyone the run-around but I didn’t realize just how much of an impact she had on the herd over all.
It was a dark and stormy night, well sort of. It was evening and raining pretty good. There was some thunder here and there. I was getting groceries after work when I got the call.
“Hey, uh, where are you?”
“Just finishing at the grocery store. Do I need to run back in for something?”
“No. Hmm… The cows are in the front yard.”
“I’m on my way. If you need help now, try Mark or Uncle Greg. I don’t think dad’s home.”
“I think they’ll be ok.”
Sure enough, I pulled into the yard and everyone except the calves were milling about the front yard. I would have left them for a bit, the lawn needed mowing and with all the rain we’ve been getting we (Mike) hadn’t had a chance to do it. I hopped out of the car and headed to the barn… well let’s be honest here, eight and a half month pregnant I rolled out of the car and waddled to the barn. By the time I got there water was swishing between my toes and I realized that I was once again not wearing the proper footwear for rain or cows. It was too late to change though.
We have started to change seasons again. Spring and summer went faster than usual this year. I’m ready for fall though. I don’t mind the cold and appreciate the slower quieter times on the farm.
The garden harvest this year has been disappointing and mostly my fault. I should have been up there weeding and watering much more, this spring especially. We ended up reseeding almost the whole thing and even then it hasn’t been great. Our beans that should be done by now are just starting to flower, the red tomatoes are still green and the corn has tassels but I would be surprised if there was going to be any sweet corn to harvest. The farm animals might enjoy the stalks and tiny bits of corn they may find.
“You might as well call in to work today and sit in the barn. Today will be the day.”
I rolled my eyes at Mike. “It’s been “the day” for the last how many days.”
We were in the barn doing morning chores and checking on Caroline. She was huge, obviously uncomfortable and showing every sign that she was ready to go any time now.
“I will check on her before I leave for work.” I have been for the last couple weeks and there has been nothing to report.
We kept on with our chores and that was that.
I had everyone loaded in the van and ready to go, pulled up to the barn and you guessed it! There she was standing over a very fresh calf. I let my boss and daycare know that I was going to be late and started checking everyone out.
Oh Thelma! It was the week of the county fair, that time of year that I end up completely ignoring household duties and spend all of my energy at the fair. I had picked Monday as the day that Sweet Caroline would have her calf. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, nothing. Thursday morning Mike went out to take care of morning chores and the phone rang. The only time the phone rings that early in the morning is when Mike is calling from the barn.
“You’d better come out here!”
I was out the door in my flip flops, bathrobe and work gloves. I’ve learned to always go right away and always bring gloves. I have yet to get the proper footwear to sink in to the process. This is it! Caroline is finally calving! I rushed in to the barn and there she was, big, uncomfortable and pregnant. I found Mike out by the corral gate, on the other side was the rest of the herd eating their breakfast same as any other morning.
Caroline followed me out of the barn and there the three of us stood looking through the gate at a little black calf that was born within the last few hours.