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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

It's alive!

Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009, at 10:47 AM

I confess. There are some days I just don't want to live on a farm or be a farm wife.

I realize that may be surprising considering the columns I write. But the truth is there are times I think it would be nice to live in a city where both my husband and I have perfect (and secure) 8 to 5 jobs (is there such a thing?) We'd have every weekend off, never work past 5'o'clock and get 3.7 weeks of paid vacation a year.

In my fantasy we'd have no cows, no fields to plant, no debts, no weeds, no harvest -- not even a yard to mow.

Our only responsibilities would be our two perfect Stepford children who are seen and not heard. (Hey, if you're going to dream -- dream big!)

Well, Saturday was one of those days. A good friend and I had made plans for a fun girl's day out. It was my birthday weekend, I had just finished the Spring Ag edition and I was looking forward to getting away for just a little while.

The only problem was I am a farm wife, it is spring, some of the ground dried, it was time to put on anhydrous and well ... my husband had other plans for me.

Luckily, since it was Saturday and college spring break and I bore two children to help on the farm -- we worked out a compromise so I was able to go with my friend -- as long as I did "a few things," before and after our trip.

So I packed lunches, drove my son to our farm in Malta Bend so he could help in the field, covered a story for the paper and then I met my friend.

After a great ferry ride to Glasgow, lunch in a cute little restaurant and some shopping, we headed home. I had other farm chores to do. One was to cut through the country on our way back to Marshall and drive by our field to "check" on a cow.

Now this wasn't any cow, she was an old (and very gentle) cow. But in her case, we knew she would need assistance having her calf, which was due anytime. In fact, for the last two weeks my husband had gotten up around 1 a.m. each night to check her, while I (if I heard him) would lay selfishly in my warm comfy bed praying that she wouldn't be in labor. That way I could stay in my warm comfy bed. (I told you some days I don't want to be a farm wife, well most nights I really don't want to.)

As I headed my car up the hill towards my house we saw the cow lying on the ground -- on her side, not moving. Panic struck -- my day of pleasure had cost both the cow and her calf their lives.

I pulled next to the pasture and jumped out of the car, slamming the door. She lifted her head and looked at us. She was alive!!

We jumped back in the car and I drove around to the gate and ran into the pasture, "town clothes" and all. I asked my friend to call my husband. There was no doubt -- the calf was finally coming.

Cows, who normally wouldn't let me be so close, are like women in labor. When it becomes difficult, they usually don't care who sees them, who helps or what is done to them as long as the end result means the baby is finally out!

After several phone calls to my husband and some instructions, (I won't go into gory details-think obstetrician with a less sterile environment), I finally did most of what I was supposed to do to help her, about the time she stood up.

My friend (also a farm wife, originally from the city) helped me get the cow into a smaller lot. After a few minutes, still standing up, the calf's feet and head pushed out, but then stopped.

I'd seen and helped my husband and the vet "pull" calves many times. But I had never done it myself. I wasn't sure I had time to wait for the vet -- I didn't want the calf to die. So I made a split second decision, grabbed the legs and pulled the calf. Out it came, landing on the ground.

I looked down, holding my breath -- was it alive? Then I saw ... a twitch of an ear and a wagging of its tongue. The eyes slowly opened up. It started to move a leg and twitched its other ear.

"It's alive! It's alive! I did it, I did it!" I yelled.

The cow looked at me like I had lost my mind (maybe I had). Then she calmly turned around, unfazed and started licking her newborn in order to clean and dry him.

The miracle of life -- right there in our cattle lot.

In just those 15 or fewer minutes, I had stopped feeling sorry for myself and instead felt thankful and lucky.

Thankful we live on a farm. Thankful we get to see the circle of life up close each spring. Thankful to raise my children in the country. And especially thankful for the chance to bring new life into the world.

Yes, I'm thankful -- and lucky. I'm a farm wife.

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We have six new little baby cows on our farm right now. Two are twins! I don't get quite as up close and personal with them as you do in your story, but it is fun to watch them stand up on their wobbly little legs for the first time and as they get a bit older run and play in the field. I think they are really cute, but I've learned not to get too attached to them...in the end you don't want to be eating your friends! So for now I'll just enjoy them from afar.

-- Posted by Typesetter on Tue, Mar 24, 2009, at 7:34 PM

Marcia, once again, wonderful article! I so enjoy reading your columns. It defines that we women can do whatever we set our minds to! Keep the good words flowing. Still have a smile on my face thinking of the wonder on yours!


-- Posted by captaingbb on Tue, Mar 24, 2009, at 9:20 PM

Marcia, superb.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Wed, Mar 25, 2009, at 12:45 AM

I have also been in manure soaked shoes doing things I never thought I would do and most people don't want to hear explained as a farm wife, and I also dread the somtimes icy winter births or as luck usually has it blizzard or rains storms-- but I love it when my toddler son heres a mooo and smiles with that sparkle in his eyes and scrinches his nose and says MOOOOOOO!!!!

-- Posted by workingmom on Thu, Mar 26, 2009, at 4:33 PM

Marcia, I haven't had the experience of helping a cow deliver a calf but I've had many other farm experiences. I've heard many times that to make a profit farming you have to walk your crops off the farm. We had a confinement hog operation during the 70's and early 80's. One the terms we used to determine when a sow would deliver her pigs was, three months, three weeks, three days and three o'clock in the morning.

I also want to say that he professional services rendered by our Veterinarian never ceased to amaze me. It didn't matter what the situation was he would always find the time at any hour of the day or night to come to the farm if his help was requested.

-- Posted by John Q. on Thu, Mar 26, 2009, at 8:08 PM


My husband was in his new tennis shoes and good jeans last night and was talking on the phone so he didn't want to try to put his coveralls and boots on while trying to hold up his end of the conversation, so he just thought he walk out to the lot by the barn and check on a cow that was due anytime. Well low and behold she had just delivered. He then hung up the phone and went on into the lot to check out the new little one and make sure Momma was doing okay. He came back in the house with his new shoes caked in mud and his jeans a mess. I thought about your story when he came in filthy, but excited to tell me about the new baby calf. That makes seven now - I just hope the other girls wait until after the snow storm! They usually wait for it!

-- Posted by Typesetter on Fri, Mar 27, 2009, at 9:43 AM

Thanks everybody for the comments.

Yes, typesetter, you're right - we expect to have several calves tomorrow, about the time the snow gets going!! It never fails.

-- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Fri, Mar 27, 2009, at 10:50 AM

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