Our son-in-law has an unusual hobby for a preacher. He raises cattle. Simmental, if you please. And he had high hopes for Miss Enchanted, the newborn red heifer. He’d feed her well. Raise her strong. Train her to follow his lead so he could sell her at auction.
The blaze-faced animal had excellent potential. Her purebred parents had good bloodlines. Mother, CVR Miss Expo 240U. Absentee father ($35 a shot of semen), TNT Top Gun R244.
Kendall expected good things from that bovine. She’d likely fetch about $1500 and could live a long and productive life as breed stock. When she was old enough, he began lead training, a process he knew well. He’d learned it as a youngster on his father’s farm.
Goes like this: Let the calf know you well. Spend time working nearby. Don’t crowd it. Touch it often. Let it get used to the rope around its neck. Tie it up, but stay close by. Then untie the rope and start walking. Never let it get away.
Kendall doesn’t like his cattle to get away by any means. That’s why in deep winter, rather than risk its possible death from exposure (or worse), he recently brought another newborn heifer home from the farm that boards his cattle.
Laying the sodden creature on the basement bathroom floor, he rubbed down her thick coat with a bath towel, stopping to inspect four oddly jagged hooves. “Magpies,” he said, disgust in his voice. “They chew on the still-soft hooves while the calves are being born. Mama can’t defend herself or her calf.”
Coyotes are another predator during calving—and they don’t stop at the hooves. But like most farmers, my son-in-law is matter-of-fact about the risks. At age 16, his first purebred calf died while he was away for the weekend. “I cried a long time,” he told me. “But I learned then that if you’re gonna have livestock, you’ll also have dead stock.”
He didn’t expect that for Miss Enchanted. But neither did he expect problems training her. No matter how often he tried, she refused to be led. At 800 pounds, when she got too large to drag, he groomed another heifer to accept the rope, and sent her to the sale instead.
“Why wouldn’t she be led?” I asked him.
“Just stubborn,” he said.
When Miss Enchanted, still insisting on her own way, reached almost a year old, she laid down where she shouldn’t—on the edge of the straw pack. It appears she rolled off it downhill and landed on her back. A cow can’t get up when it lands on its back. It also can’t breathe. She died of asphyxiation.
“Just laid down in the wrong place,” Kendall told me regretfully.
If only she hadn’t insisted on her own way. If only she’d allowed herself to be led. If only she hadn’t lain down where she oughtn’t.
Funny. Since Adam, God’s been saying all that about human beings.
“Hey…” you’ve likely heard often. “Jesus was a rebel!” In an article titled just that, writer Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide, comments: “Rebellion is only a virtue when it occurs as an unintended byproduct of obedience.” His thoughts, well worth the read, are here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/februaryweb-only/18-22.0.html?start=2.