“If you are in a hurry, be deliberate.”
Neil and his wife were young Alabama cattle farmers. He was very
attentive to his stock, subscribed to many livestock publications, kept up on new management practices and was always in a hurry. Jenny was a practical but kind-hearted livestock person herself. Both had jobs in town.
Their first-calf heifers had started their calving season. On the evening of the ‘incident’, Neil had checked the heifer lot and found one of the thinner ones in labor. After supper he and Jenny drove out to have a look and see how her parturition was progressing. Low and behold, the heifer had twins!
One of the calves was standing but the smaller one was laid out on the ground. It wasn’t moving and somehow didn’t look right. Neil assumed, as often happens with twins, one of the calves is born healthy and strong, while the other was born weaker.
The standing calf was trying to find his way around. Neil eased up to it, picked it up and carried it into a little panel pen with a head gate. The new mother followed and, after several minutes, the calf was sucking.
“What about the other calf?” asked Jenny.
“He won’t make it,” Neil said. “He looks poorly, isn’t moving, maybe didn’t get his share in the womb. Besides, the heifer ain’t got milk enough for two.”
“Well, you can’t just leave it there,” she protested.
“I know best, It’s nature’s way, Dummy calf, These things happen, Won’t make it anyhow, Better for them both, etc.” he explained.
“It’s just not right!” she mumbled, climbing back in the pickup and slamming the door.
Little was said the rest of the evening. She scolded him for his lack of compassion. He belligerently clung to the “some must be sacrificed for the common good” argument. It was chilly in bed that night.
Next morning at daybreak Neil climbed in the pickup and drove out to the calving lot. A good feeling arose in him when he saw the calf, head in mama’s breakfast nook, contentedly nursing. Neil scanned the lot for the lost twin. For a moment he thought maybe the coyotes had drug off the body. He looked back to the new mother and spoke out loud to her, “Where did he go?”
She looked back over her other shoulder at the second twin who was nursing heartily.
“If you’d taken a moment to check last night you’d have known that the one on the ground was born first, got his colostrum, and I put him down for a nap. Then you showed up.” (Or something of the sort if cows could talk.)
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org