About 2 weeks ago I started penning out a blog post about time management and why it is difficult for farmers and farm families. Lo and behold I have not yet found time to finish it! Life is slightly chaotic for farmers during planting season and things like sleep or meals (and blog posts) often fall to the bottom of the list. This is one of the reasons there was panic on our farm when we lost a bison cow just after it gave birth. Now we had an orphaned calf and someone had to find the time to do something about it! After careful observation we could see that no other cow was going to take the calf on (bison are very different than cattle when calving – they will not let you assist them and you can not get close afterwards. The mothers and other herd members are aggressive and protective making it dangerous to handle the young and difficult for veterinarians).
This situation weighed heavily on our conscience and my farmer decided to shut down the drill and take care of things before dark. After I finished work my youngest son had ball practice, this is what I came home to at 7:30 PM last night:
Meet Spike, our first orphaned calf. The poor little guy is so cute and he tugs heavily on a person’s heartstrings. We are fairly new to the bison scene and have not dealt with this situation before. We have no facilities to pen a calf, so now what?
Of course my initial reaction was to find a way to keep him in my entryway in the house! Then he urinated in the back of the truck. Twice. So I was quickly brought back into reality. These are big, strong, dangerous animals and they need to be treated with caution and respect. After much discussion and weighing all our options we made a call to a friend late last night to ask if she would keep it in her barn for now. She has a soft spot for animals and we were grateful when she agreed. Discussions with the vet are ongoing and we will have to decide the safest way to handle the situation for everyone. For the time being Spike is content and warm inside his new pen and the latest report has come back that he is happily taking a bottle. (Sorry for the picture quality, in the rush last night I only had my cell phone because my camera got left at home)
After I crawled into bed around 11:30 PM I found myself reflecting on how farming is both a knowledge intensive business and a lifestyle of learning as you go. We struggle every day to make the right decisions for each situation when time restrictions and circumstances don’t often make it easy. With rain in the forecast and a very small window of opportunity to get our crops in, I am certain it was hard for Michael to stop seeding for a few hours but at least we can rest soundly knowing that we gave this little guy a fighting chance.