One of the absolute best parts of living in rural America is having good neighbors and, fortunately, that is true regardless of what part of the country you reside. When I get a truck or tractor stuck in the mud, help is only a phone call away. When I leave a gate open, it’s not uncommon for a friend to call and see if I meant to or, more likely than not, if I messed up again. If my cattle get out, these same neighbors are just as likely to drive them back in instead of calling. But, sometimes, it gets downright embarrassing.
Last Wednesday, as I entered the gate at the north farm, I could see a single cow off by herself. Reasoning that she had a newborn, I went ahead and unrolled the bale of hay before going to tag her baby. As I approached the cow, I could see a tiny black blob next to her that was much too still and in a position that would have made any cattleman a little sick at his stomach. Sure enough, a lifeless calf lay beside the upset mother and to the dismay of both cow and cattleman, there was a second calf also. Neither of the twins looked as if they had ever drawn a breath.
I usually try to gather the stillborns for a more secluded resting place as quickly as possible, and I would have done so, if not for the fact that the cow was obviously not finished with her grieving process. There was no way she was going to let me within 20 feet of her dearly, departed offspring and it would have cost me either life or limb to attempt to do so. I jumped back inside the safety of the truck.
At 3 o’clock that afternoon, a good neighbor called to ask if I knew about the twins in the corner of the pasture by the road. I assured him that I did and explained the situation with the cow. “Yeah,” he replied, “I stopped to see how she was doing, but she wouldn’t let me over the fence.”
The next day, the cow was just as protective and had obviously kept away any predators, so I once again left her alone. That afternoon, a second neighbor called to inquire about my knowledge of the goings-on at the north place. I thanked him for his call but told him I was aware.
On the third day, after several more similar calls, I changed the answering message on my phone to, “Hello, this is Jerry, and I already know about the cow and her twins. I’ll get them moved soon – I think.”
Now, a week later, everything is back to normal at that farm. While I feel fairly certain that I’m still the topic of conversation at the feed store and the coffee shop, I would still rather have neighbors who take the time to alert me to a problem, than those who would just drive on by.


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