Farmers and ranchers share an unspoken bond of sorts, even if they have never met.
We’ve seen the bond countless times as farmers come together to help their fellow farmers. We’ve all heard the stories of combines firing up to harvest an ailing neighbor’s fields before their own and of cowboys coming together to get livestock out of harm’s way. We’ve seen it right here in the Ozarks when loads of hay, feed and fencing supplies traveled west in the wake of natural cover fires. If you own cattle, you’ve gotten that dreaded “You’ve got cows out,” call or a knock on the door at least once, and folks have probably stopped to help you get your loose bovine rounded back up. As I’ve written before, it’s kind of what we do; we help each other when we can.
On a recent cool, windy Sunday morning, my husband and I were traveling home from seeing his parents when he spotted something along the road.
“Did you see that?” Bill said. “There’s an old man in the ditch… I think there’s a calf there.”
My nose had been in my phone, so didn’t see what he was talking about, but Bill quickly turned the truck around and we headed back up the road.
When we pulled up, I asked the gentleman if he needed help.
“I think I’ve got more here than I can handle,” he said. He was just about out of breath and was happy help had arrived.
We jumped out of the truck and there in the ditch was a newborn calf. The big gray calf was still wet and there was no momma in sight. He apparently had been born nearby and rolled under, or fell through, the old barbed wire fence, then rolled down a hill and into the road ditch. The man said it wasn’t his calf, but he couldn’t get a hold of the man he thought owned it.
As we picked the calf up and packed him back up the hill, another couple stopped to help. The other lady and I got the calf back through the fence, but with no cow in sight, we knew he’d be back in the same situation in no time, so under the fence we crawled (which is much harder to do when you’re closer to 50 than 40) to try and find a momma. The hungry calf followed right along.
The other lady called the cows as we walked and they came running — then ran the other way. She decided she would walk the trailing calf to a nearby barn, and I walked back toward the road to tell the men what was going on. A cow showed some interest in the calf and began to follow; I don’t know if she was momma or not, but it was a good sign. The owner of the calf drove by as I was walking back through the pasture, so the men waiting were able to tell him what had happened. The owner and the first gentleman we met thanked us, but we were just glad we could help out.
It was a long trip back to Dallas County, Mo., with manure, mud and “calf slime” all over me and my plan to stop off at the grocery store was axed, but the calf was out of the ditch and it was mission accomplished for the elderly man who was trying to help out his neighbor.
As we made our way home, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people drove by the elderly man trying to retrieve the calf, but didn’t bother to stop. It appears we were just in the right place at the right time to help out. Bill and I were glad we could help because we know what it’s like to need another set of hands.
Thankfully, we have good friends, family and neighbors who have helped us out over the years, and on that Sunday morning, none of us were strangers, we were just neighbors helping neighbors.