Monday, March 2, 2015

Nature Meets Farmboy

Ripping February wind blew across the dry, brown Salt Wells basin.  The grey skies, tinting at times with pink and orange and blue, looked down cold and distant on the dry fields. Mamma cows followed the feeder, first with their big dark eyes when the tractor started, then with their big, bulky, calving-fat bodies, like they hadn't seen food in days.  All of them so hungry, their bodies needing the nourishment for labor or milk.  Their babies hopped and played after them, staying close to those protecting ladies, the source of their warmth, food, and safety.

"I've got to go check on that one," Farmboy motioned with his head towards Echo Mountain where a laboring cow lumbered back and forth, tail cocked and back-end tense.  He thought out loud, next, about how the next bit would play out,  "I need to get the side-by-side and take it back up to the house, get some gates, maybe a horse and trailer, got to get the cow where I can help her. . ."

Just then, as an answer before a pleading prayer, Hyrum came down the fields, siblings in tow, all strapped in the needed side-by-side Gator.  Farmboy hopped in, and hurried to check on the cow.  We watched as he gently prodded her across the fields.  We stayed in the warm truck, playing "I Spy" and "Telephone" and waiting.  We wait often-wait in trucks, tractors, at windows.  These kids, they are champion waiters.

My phone rang, and Farmboy needed gloves.  Off we went in the truck, the kids and I.  Another un-uttered prayer was answered because a bunch of gates lay at the edge of the field and the side-by-side was full of baling twine.  Farmboy fashioned a chute and had that patient, calm, good, sweet mamma pinned in.  He looked up at me, grey eyes determined and pleading.

"Could you please hold the tail?  Here's my gloves."

He stripped off his coats and sweatshirt, wind biting at the thermals underneath.  He rolled up his sleeve as best he could, donned the latex gloves, wishing he had longer vet gloves in the truck and went to work.  He murmured comfort and encouragement and I cried and prayed over that good mamma.

"It's coming, all four feet first . . . no, one foot is back,"  Farmboy drew out his arm, thought for a moment, and went back to work.  "It's twins, and they're trying to come at the same time," he breathed heavily now, trying to maneuver the unseen babies, trying to comfort the anguishing mamma, fighting against nature's honest mistake,  Nature's way would have that mamma give up, dying in her plight.  But nature met Farmboy in Salt Wells that evening. And while man's arm is puny, Farmboy's isn't.  Neither were the prayers we uttered in every pull and breath and contraction.

Finally, two tiny hooves appeared and then a small black head.  The little baby landed in a slimy thud on the cold frozen ground, and Farmboy heaved a sigh, "it's gone."  He pulled the limp calf away from the staggering feet of its mamma and went right back to work.

"It's breathing," I started to say, but that mamma beat me to it.  She started cleaning that little limp baby with all the fervor of instinct and care a new mother has.  She prodded and moved and worked and moaned and bellowed and wailed.  I held her tail, crying and praying, and wondering at it all.  I looked up at the stark mountain and wondered why.  Why work so hard for this?  This dying baby calf, this laboring, languishing mamma, the yet unseen twin. 

Farmboy struggled and pulled and grunted and worked, and soon another set of hooves appeared ahead of a small black and white face. Its tongue lolled out of its head and I thought it was gone, too.  But Mamma had other ideas, and as soon as that baby landed, she went right to work, selflessly cleaning and prodding and licking her babies well.  We stood back, breathless and grateful and amazed.

"Does this count as a date?"  Farmboy's eyes twinkled in Promontory evening light.

"Best date ever,"  I smiled back, wiping a bit of muck off my boot onto the frozen ground.  We hugged and turned to see Jared get out of the truck, reverence and wonder on his face.  He didn't say much, but stood and watched the mamma and babies from a distance.  Eventually he motioned towards the western skies,

"Look at that," he said, nodding towards the brilliant sliver of sunset, almost stifled in the heavy blue night.

"That's neat, isn't it?"  I agreed.

And then I knew why--why all of this.  It's for our benefit and use.  It's given to us, from a loving Father who knows all.  He's given us the good things of the earth, the beasts of the field, fowls of the air, the herb, for taste, smell, food, raiment, strength of body and enlivened mind.  To please our eyes and gladden our hearts.  For us to use, not to excess or extortion, but to use in gratitude.  And to take care of.  Because in all of the caring for and praying for and working for we recognize His grace in a sunset, a new life, a wondering boy. Gifts to us from a loving Father and his Son.

So, then it was time to leave.  Farmboy washed in the icy cold trough, enough so Rachael let him sit by her on the way home.  As we drove through the fields, bumping and thinking and pondering, a clear voice came from the back seat,

"I never want to be a farmer's wife.  That's disgusting."

Well, I'm glad I'm a farmer's wife. . .


Michael Rees said...

Sue you have such a great way with words, that was fun to read. 241

Caroline Bourgeous said...

You are amazing. Not only at writing but living. I am so glad that I got to read this and that I know you and that you are a farmers wife.