Life and Death on the Farm

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It was a sad day on the farm yesterday… My first experience dealing with death here.

Unfortunately it is not my first experience with it in my life. And the presence and closeness of it looms above my head like a dark cloud if I allow it.

But, yesterday. It was right there.

The morning started off well, sipping coffee whilst watching a very pregnant cow try to push out her newborn. She was far away and we didn’t want to bother her so we just stood nearby and watched.

It went on a while so we decided to go to the garden and do some harvesting for the week. Every so often, we’d look up and she was still pushing/walking around. Time took longer than expected but so far so good.

An hour passed by and we went to check on her – she had completely hidden herself away from the herd and from us.

Something looked wrong, one of us got into the four-wheeler to get a closer look. As there was a calf, but it wasn’t moving.

We watched as my boss got nearer and I noticed her shoulders drop when she realised, as we all did, from her body language. The calf was dead.

I couldn’t help feeling teary-eyed as I felt so sorry for the mother. She just stood there over the still-born. Occasionally licking the embryonic sac (I think that’s what it was).

We all went back to the house to regroup and plan the next steps. 

The was the first time my boss had experienced this, so it was all new to all of us. And we weren’t too confident.

On our return to the cow, who was still standing there over the calf, we noticed she still seemed huge and something was still wrong. Without getting into too much detail here.

Luckily, there was another, who I’m now calling ‘Superfarmer’ out on the next field. We called him over and in the space of half another he said no more than three sentences.

“There’s another one still in there”

“I need some rope”

And to the question “do you think it’s still alive?” “Probably not”

He was very impressive. He went right in there, I mean, passed elbow deep into the cow. Got kicked by her once and continued.

He was pulling out this second calf.

I got rope to help tie to the calf as the cow was now much too weak to push. It was on us.

So very quickly, three of us were pulling out the second calf.

I can’t say I wasn’t shocked by the whole sight, the sounds and even the smell.

But one of the reasons I want to share this is because, when you have to do something. You can.

Ask me now if I could do it… As I’m sipping a cup of tea in a warm kitchen. I’d answer probably not.

But in that moment, in the rush and the necessity of suck-it-up and do it. I can.

And that’s the second reason I want to share this very raw experience.

Working on a farm is just that. Mother Nature is your boss. Your shitty colleague who bully’s you and the annoying intern who never gets it right. She determines your work. Your life and your days.

I like feeling so close to life and death, bringing vegetables to life, feeding people, caring for the produce. Caring for the cows, the chickens, the pigs. Dealing with death everyday but also life. It’s real. It’s brutal but it’s all true.

And I feel alive being a part of it.

And I love the limits being pushed.

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