I realize it’s the middle of a hot summer but please indulge me a bit as I take you back to a cold February night- maybe it’ll cool you off a bit.
Welcome and good morning baby-
It’s just after 11:00 on a cold late February night and I go down to the barn to check on a heifer I had locked in a stall because I saw earlier that she was thinking about calving. I could tell because she had gone off by herself, as cows do, when they are getting ready to calf. Because she was a heifer I wanted to have her in a place where I could help her should she have trouble. Well sure enough, she was having trouble. Her water had broken some time ago and she was up and down- alternating between laying down on her side and walking around in circles mooing for her, as of yet, unborn calf, a sure sign.
Now, this heifer knew me as the one who fed her in the winter and kept her in good pastures in the summer but she was still not totally trusting of me, she was after all a range cow, spending much of her time totally away from all human contact. I did not have a head-catch at this time so I had to use a lot more finesse in doctoring cows, getting them to trust me enough to help them.
I could see she would be needing help soon so I quietly slipped into the large stall and squatted down with my back against the wall at one end of the stall while she eyed me nervously to see what I was up to. I just sat there on my haunches and waited, reassuring her now and then, letting her hear my familiar voice, low and calmly saying; “its ok girl, I’ll be here when you’re ready.”
So I settle in and wait and as I sit there I become acutely aware of the stillness around me. No sound but the occasional rustling of the heifers’ shuffling feet in the straw I had thrown out in the stall for her. It’s like there’s no one in the world but me and this heifer right now. I turn off my glaring flashlight and let my eyes adjust to the dim light from the moon that’s filtering in from outside through the unfinished barn walls. I see that the heifer is starting to worry less about me and getting back to the business of calving.
It’s cold but I’m warm in my insulated Carhartt coveralls and wool Scotch cap. The cold crisp air mixed with the musty smell of the heifer and the dusty straw gives me a sensation that all is right with the world. A feeling that really can’t be described but once experienced is never forgotten.
The heifer lies down again as the contractions come hard and heavy, the steam of her breath coming in sharp bursts like a geyser that can’t decide if it’s ready to blow or not. Then I see a small hoof appear under her tail, she is oblivious to my presence now as she alternates between pushing and just laying her head heavily in the straw to catch her breath.
It’s time- I crawl on my hands and knees through the straw, which is now becoming well mixed with the manure beneath, to the rear of the heifer, I take off my gloves and slowly slip a hand into the heifer to feel a velvety nose lodged firmly in the birth canal. I work both the front hoofs of the calf out as far as I can while the heifer lifts her head to look at me and then pushes once more. I reach into the back pocket of my coveralls and pull out a zip-lock bag containing the O.B. chains as the steam rises off my hands now covered with warm amniotic fluid.
I work the chains onto the small hoofs being careful to get them above the fetlocks, I hook the hand held puller to the center of the chains, brace my feet against the rear of the cow and working with the contractions of the heifer I begin to pull. We are totally in this together now and after several pulls with all my strength timed to coincide with her pushes we suddenly have a head. I get up off my −back where I landed when the shoulders cleared and quickly get to my feet to easily slide the calf the rest of the way out. I catch my breath as the heifer−now a cow−relaxes, and the calf, a coal black bull with a bright white face, takes its first gasping breaths.
I wait only moments before I drag the calf around to the front of the cow to make sure she gets a good snoot full of her baby’s scent. She soon gets to her feet and gives the calf another good sniffing before she begins gingerly to clean him while mooing gently with the moo that cows only use for their babies. Praise God! She’s accepted the calf and has the mother instinct. I get out of the stall and hang around only long enough to make sure the calf gets up and stumbles over to where the milk is, amazed once again that a minutes old calf always knows where to find the milk.
“Welcome and goodnight baby, see you in the morning.”
Sometimes we just need to be there.
Being the church of Jesus Christ means loving our neighbors and – one another, learning to take care of those who are right in front of us. Jesus said go and make disciples of all nations… we make disciples by sharing the good news and then by being there to encourage them on. New believers will quickly wither and die if they are not loved into health and seasoned believers will not continue to grow and bear fruit if they are not continuing to be loved−and sharing the love.
As we mature in our relationship with Christ it is sharing the love that really keeps us healthy and fulfilled, that encourages us, no matter the cost, the fulfillment that comes from living a life of love is priceless.
I was sitting in that cold barn in the middle of the night because I cared, sure that calf was worth 500 bucks at weaning time but that’s not what I was thinking about; there isn’t a rancher around worth his salt who doesn’t genuinely care for his animals. And when I left the barn that night I felt good, real good, even though I was covered with manure and afterbirth and had missed several hours of sleep. That is not the kind of feeling you get from simply earning a buck, it’s the kind of feeling you get from making an impact on another life. It’s a deep down satisfaction.
It is the same feeling that comes from doing something good for someone who has entrusted you with their friendship and their heart. It’s the unique deep down soul satisfying feeling of being blessed because you allowed God to use you to be a blessing to someone. It’s not about conquering the world, it’s about saving and discipling individuals, it’s about being there.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11
Love completes us.