This isn’t the post I had intended to share with you today, but I just had to write this (maybe you’ll get a double dose of The Rancher’s Wife today!).
I hate death. And I hate that even though as hard as we try, we lose sometimes. I think I take it personally because it means that I wasn’t enough. Today I had to face that reality again.
The temperatures are warming up enough (or I am sick of being inside) that I decided to go for a run this morning. It was just an ordinary run- I thought I was dying but still going. I was jamming to my iPod and picking up speed as I headed down the last hill. This is where it all changed.
I noticed there was a heifer in the already-calved-pen that was stuck on her back. If a cow gets on her back and her feet uphill she can’t get up alone (sometimes I think I feel like that…). If she is left like that long she could die. Needless to say, when I got up to her, I called The Rancher to come fix it (because he can fix anything!). His response was to do it myself… um… no. I can’t really do a job that takes the two of us. At this point I noticed that she was calving and so we had even more reason to hurry.
After The Rancher’s speedy arrival (that seemed to take hours) we pushed and pulled and grunted and finally got her un-upside down. Then we realized that she couldn’t stand. When cows have been trying to have a baby for a longer time than usual, the pressure can make it so that they can’t get up. This was actually ok because it meant that we could pull the calf right there.
The nose of the baby was sticking out and we could tell that he was struggling to breath. That calf needed help and every minute counted. Which meant we didn’t have time for the calf puller or chains or even gloves. We ended up using a bungee cord to wrap around the calves legs, the wench on our 4 wheeler to do the pulling and yours truly stuck her bare hands into the heifer to help during the tough spots. It wasn’t the most conventional way of pulling a calf, but it worked.
Once we got the calf out, we went to work getting him breathing. A lot of times just tickling the inside of their nose will make them sneeze and that’s enough to jump start them. But that didn’t work…
We tried rubbing his back and chest, trying to wake him up a little more. That didn’t help…
The Rancher got down to him and tried some mouth to nose breathing. With every breath he would give, the calf’s heart would beat a little faster… for a while. But eventually it wasn’t enough and his heart stopped. He died even though we were there to help him. He died while we were doing all we could. He died while my hand was resting on his little chest, willing his heart to beat again.
There comes a point when see that you are going to lose. And its at this point you put everything you have into it, denying the horror that is becoming reality. You hope that your will and determination will cause something miraculous to happen so that you don’t have to face the truth. The truth that calf has died.
This is one of those days that we don’t love on the ranch. We are reminded that we have limits and that there are some things we just can’t fix. And I hate that. I really hate when death wins.