My youngest, Claudia, has named the sweet thing Calfie. If you did not read yesterday, we are babysitting a weak, struggling calf for neighbors (read about it HERE). Claudia loves to go out and look at him and rub her hands through his thick chocolate brown fur. He is not well, even if he made it through the night. Someone is out there every hour to see if we can get him to take some milk; all day yesterday and so far this morning, there are often children out there just keeping him company.
Maria and I just came back from the barn, we went out to feed him. I sat on the floor of the pen with his heavy, warm body in my lap and I could feel his heart beating and his lungs breathing, reminding me that he was still alive. I held up his head and Maria held the bottle while she stroked his fur, trying to keep him awake enough to eat. As he swallowed, I could feel the milk going down his throat which rested on my arm. Maria gave him a couple of breaks and let him rest before trying to get just a bit more milk in him. Veronica snapped some photos of us feeding him so I could share them with you. Then I snapped one of her. I had just placed him on this piece of cardboard that is cushioned with straw and hay. I was heading back to the house. She wanted to stay with him so that he would not be lonely. She doesn't want him to think nobody loves him when he is on a different farm than his mother.
He can't walk, he can only sometimes stand, and he is not coordinated. He is like a jerky little puppet controlled by a child. It is becoming more and more clear that the vet's opinion that he is neurologically impaired is right. More and more feedings behind us and more and more attempts to get him on his feet and we know that it is not a question of if but rather of question of when he will die. It is so hard to watch my children stroke him and keep him company, hoping and praying that he will snap to attention and start to walk around all while Ben and I believe that he cannot. Children love deeply and they hurt deeply, too.
In the end I am willing to risk the hurt to my children. Seeing them love this calf, care for him, stay up late and get up early for him, means that they are profoundly compassionate people. This is a dark world and the things that people do to each other, the lack of compassion, of any awareness that others exist appalls me. Seeing these children love with a love that hurts means that they are not that kind of person. It means that no matter what I read in the news, there is real hope in this world, because my children can and do care.
Raymond and Eli are moving the pasture fence this morning. There is an electric fence that is moved weekly to make sure that the cattle have fresh areas to graze but while they do this the dairy cow and beef steer have to be in the barn, in the pen this little thing is occupying. The plan is for them to move his cardboard and his rug out to the main area of the barn and to stay with him so that the pen is freed up for the bigger cattle. Sometimes he flops around and he could hurt himself out in the open area where there are tools. They younger boys rushed through the kitchen chores and milking dishes this morning so that they could be the ones to stay with him. Veronica stood guard while they worked. He might not have much more time but the time he has is precious to them.
It will hurt when he dies but it will only make me more proud of my children. Every tear will give me hope for the future. The world will be a better place for their loss. I will remember this then, that even when my heart breaks for my children, it will be a proud mother's heart.