Written by Billie Ingalls
Most cow-calf operations in the U.S. have spring calving seasons usually between March and May. Right now, my fiancé has a small operation of about 20 cattle, with three calves already born this February. It’s an experience helping him with the cattle and learning more about the process of the beef industry and what I can do to help these cows deliver their calf and keep them healthy. However, sometimes calving season doesn’t always happen in the way we hope.
Early Tuesday morning we lost a little calf and her mama because of a uterine prolapse. The calf was very small and wasn’t ready to be born quite yet, but yet she still arrived. You take the hard blame for the loss of these animals, because you feel you could’ve prevented it. You suck back the tears when you have to carry the calf out of the pen and try to keep moving forward. You let the weight sit on your shoulders, playing the scenario over and over in your head, thinking of things you could’ve done differently to stop this from happening. Yet in all reality, life and death happens. It happens in all things around us, regardless of the steps we take.
Maybe had we checked just an hour earlier, the calf would’ve still been alive.
Maybe if we had better equipment or technology we would’ve known sooner.
Maybe if we had warmer weather, they would’ve made it.
Maybe this, what if that.
But when life happens and that calf is learning to take its first steps, they eventually find their feet and jump and skip in the straw. It’s humbling to be in the presence of such an immense sudden burst of life. There’s joy to be seen through their beginning and the dawn of a new spring.
Spring will come again and the sun will continue to rise. Crop will soon enough rise from the ground and harvest will be back once more. We will continue to experience gain and loss, happiness and sorrow, a newborn calf jumping for life and one being carried away.
The bottom line is this – no matter what you do and how well you care for your livestock or crop, accidents happen and we just have to be ready for them. Death on the farm is simply a sad fact and it is a constant challenge and hardship we face. You beat yourself up and let yourself hurt, but you pick up the pieces and keep working. But when life is there, remember to cherish the moment.
Billie graduated from Bethel University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication & Marketing studies. She grew up in rural northwest Wisconsin surrounded by more trees than cornfields but enjoys the new view. During her senior year of college, she took a special interests test resulting in being told she would be a great fit in the agriculture industry. Ignoring it, she moved to the city instead and pursued a job in radio advertising. After a few months, she realized it wasn’t for her and found her passion in agriculture. Billie joined the Asmus Farm Supply team in the Spring of 2016 and enjoys spending her free time reading, being outdoors and learning more about how she can be a voice for the farming community.