You can’t plan when you raise cattle.

Faint whispers of light edged the eastern horizon when I stepped out my door this morning. The air was crisp. The thermometer read a hair under freezing, but the wind had died down and the rain had finally stopped. It was a beautiful north Idaho March morning.

As I was walking past the lot where the first-calf heifers are penned each night for ease of middle-of-the-blasted-night checks, I noticed one, #119, down by the fence. An occasional beller and a too-intent stare down at the ground were my first indicators of something gone amiss. I let Doc out, and then made my way through the muck to investigate.

There on the opposite side of the fence from #119 was a little black bundle of a bull calf. My best guesstimation is he shot through the fence when he was born. Calves are slippery little dudes when they enter this world, and he probably went through the fence like a Nordic skier on a tub of butter. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get back through the fence and hadn’t sucked or been licked off by mama. And that crisp air I’d been appreciating earlier had made the little guy a crusty ice cube of shivering black fur.

Playing in the Muck

The aftermath of playing in the muck. As a friend of mine said once, "Good thing you weren't wearing your coveralls or you'd really be a mess."

Well, things certainly couldn’t be left as they were, so I picked up the calf out of the muck he’d been flopping around in for who knows how long and carried him into the barn. A quick rub-down and a bottle of colostrum later, and I think this little guy will be dancing around the field in no time.

This wasn’t how I planned to start my morning. In fact, I’d just taken a shower – a moot point after playing in the manure and mud. You can’t plan when you raise cattle. Well, you can, but then you’ll be one of those people who is always bitter about their plans always changing. Who wants to live like that when you can just be a person who doesn’t plan?

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