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A Farmer’s Life, A Farmer’s Wife


“Now when that calf comes through that gate, jump over the fence and box him in.”

That’s my husband.

It was last Thursday, and we were in a mess. The night before we had noticed one of our mama cows in what I call the dying spot. They always use the same stinking spot when they want to check out.

We’d called the vet, and here we are 14 hours later. He had checked out the sick cow and determined that she basically had a torn groin muscle from a breeding incident gone bad with our new bull. She needed medication and time to heal and she needed to come to the feeding lot where she could be contained and cared for.

But before we could do that…my husband decided we needed to send another bull calf to the stockyards, which brings me to the problem with the fence. The one he wanted me to scale was over 5 feet tall and on a slight hill, so climbing it is a little bit like scaling a rock wall in muck boots. The vet and his assistant are on the other side of the fence drawing up medications for the cow in the field and I’m just praying I don’t split my pants in front of strangers.

I climb the fence. We load the calf and I’m beyond glad that it didn’t turn into something more embarrassing.

We managed to get our sick cow into the fenced area where I would be her nurse until she healed. Or died. Which she decided to do instead. Threw a blood clot, had a seizure and dropped dead right at my feet on Thursday afternoon. Well great. I waited for my husband to come home and we got the lovely duty of moving her 800 pound self to the back of the farm until we could get the highway department to come bury her. We were bummed, but okay.

Until things got all weird up in here y’all.

The Next Mystery

Three days later, another cow was down. In that same spot! I’m going to rope it off, I promise. She could barely open her eyes, staggered when she walked and lobbed her head from side to side like she was drunk. Hmmm…I diagnosed mad cow disease with the help of the internet and waited for the vet to come back.

When he got here, Jeremy had gone to work and left me to help the vet. “You can manage the cow can’t you?” Sure. No problem. You got it buddy.

The problem here was that this cow could walk–which meant she could get away. The vet and I made a plan. We would chase her down, lasso her head and tie her to a tree so he could work on her. She needed her stomach pumped, IV medications and blood work.

This should be a piece of cake. I shivered a little bit.

We followed/chased/ran after her along a fence line for several hundred yards before he managed to swing the open end of the lasso around her neck. Working quickly, he wrapped the end several times around a tree branch and much to my surprise she just laid down. Moving his truck into place, he and his assistant started an IV and medications. I noticed that no one was holding the rope so I took over, bracing one foot against the tree trunk and the other standing on the loose end of the rope–like that would help if she really wanted to leave. She’d just take me with her.

Every few minutes she’d take a big lunge and try to get up. At one point she tried to take me for a little ride, but I held on. ‘Cause I’m a farm girl like that.

After a trip to the house for 10 gallons of water, I returned to hear my favorite medical related question: “Wanna see something neat?” the vet asked. 

Of course I did. I’m a nurse.

He produced a six-inch long stick from inside the cow’s nose.

Whoa. Gross dude. Then I stopped. 

Six months prior this cow had gotten a stick in her nose. Jeremy thought he’d pulled it all out but maybe not. Dude. The cow was septic from that stick.

Just to cover our bases, we went on and pumped her stomach and when all had been done and she was left to mother nature and time to heal. Which I’m happy to report she has.

Let the dead bury their dead–unless it’s a cow

BUT…I still had to bury the dead one.

“Call the highway department and they’ll bring a backhoe out and bury her, you can handle that, right?” That was Jeremy again. And I hate that question.

So yesterday there I was, meeting two men with a dump truck and a backhoe on a trailer at the base of my driveway. Prepared to walk to the other side of the farm to show the man where the (now 5 day old dead) cow was, I started giving him directions when he said “you can just climb in and ride with me if you want.”

Well of course I want to ride in a backhoe with you Mister Random Man to bury a 5 day old dead cow. Which I did, but I have to say those things make me nervous. The backhoe because it wobbles and the cow because I was scared to death she was gonna pop and I was gonna toss my cookies right there in that shiny heavy machinery.

I’m happy to say I made it through this past week without any split pants or tossed cookies but I’m looking forward to a few easier days on the farm–where farmer and farmer’s wife seem to be the same thing.

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  1. Rachel, that was a very good story which I can relate to as a farm wife. You should send some of your stories to the Country Woman Magazine. Have you seen that magazine? I love it and have gotten it for years. Your stories would fit right in. Sound like you make a great farm wife!

    1. I hadn’t considered it Joyce, but maybe one day! At least all the farmer’s wives out there know what I’m talking about. It’s good to know I’m not alone in my adventures. 🙂

  2. Sorry about your cow Rachel. 🙁 Maybe “that spot” is the
    place they know to go to – to let you know there is something wrong.
    Animals are smarter than we think.
    So glad you still have your pants…and…cookies! 🙂

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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.