Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Death of Pet...

When growing up on a ranch one becomes accustomed to death. It is a part of "the circle of life" if you will. Yes, it is devastating to lose your animals, no one can love the cattle that you raise the way that you do. You are there with them when they are born, through their entire life, including first pregnancies and every "cold" right up until death. Early in the spring, when there are still occasionally snow storms, it is not uncommon to find a calf in the doorway of your house because it is warmer inside and will have a better chance of surviving that way. Sometimes a mother will die giving birth and the orphan will need to be bottle fed for several months. Sometimes calves are born too early, and are just not able to live.

Just last year we had a similar happening. We had a calf that was born way too early. It's little legs were not long enough for the rest of his body, and he was one of the tiniest calves I had ever seen. We had to bottle feed this little baby to help it keep its strength up. It had the softest black coat, curling just slightly at the ends. Its nose was wet, and despite its deformed limbs was an adorable animal. My dad did not believe he would last the night, but he lasted through the night and was doing well during the week. I became attached to this little creature, would volunteer to go down to the calving barn to feed it even. When it was first born it made the most pitiful crying sound, bawling for his mother. As time went by he grew stronger and he began to recognize people as they would come in to feed and check on him. With each day you could see improvements in his condition. He even got to the point where he could stand up even though his front feet were so much smaller than his back feet. Just when everything seemed to be smooth sailing, nature turned against him. He got sick, and over the course of an hour his condition turned completely around. It became apparent very early on that he would not make it through the week. He continued to fade, until you could only hear a few whisper breathes that seemed to rattle his chest. Finally he closed his eyes and died. He was buried outside our barn the next day. What seemed most tragic about this whole situation was that he had improved so much and seemed to be on the fast track, but unbeknowenst to us, his life was meant to be short.

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