Friday, August 20, 2010
How to Survive on A Farm (Tips from someone who knows nothing about it). Part 1: Know Your Animals
When I first moved to the farm (WAAAYYYYY back when) there was an incident involving a four legged beast.
I came home from school (where I worked) to find that I was the only person around that afternoon. When I wandered into the back yard, I noticed this 'four legged beast' (which I will here in refer to as a 'cow' for conversational purposes) sitting over the back fence. Something was definitely amiss. It didn't look right. It was kind of sitting there looking quite ill, if that is possible.
Being the 'city chick' that I am, I was at a loss at what to do. I mean, if this had been a dog or a cat in the city, I would have called the Vet. Did the same principal work for cows too?
So I moved closer to this sick animal and tried to feed it some grass. This was most unsuccessful. So I tried some water instead. The poor thing was not interested in the water either. I must have sat and watched the cow for close to half an hour before I realised I would have to actually do something else. But what? In desperation I called one of my hubby's aunts, who lives nearby, and also on a farm. The conversation went something like this.
"Hi Sue. I've come home and found a cow over the back fence and it looks really sick. I've tried to feed it but it won't have any. Should I call a vet?"
"Whatever you do, Jessie, DO NOT call a Vet. Your Father in Law will KILL you if you call a vet."
"So what do I do? Surely I can't leave it here suffering?"
(Laughing) "Yes. Unfortunately that's exactly what you must do.Sadly, one of the things about living in the bush, is watching animals who are sick at one time or another. It will all be ok. Just wait for someone to come home and they'll sort it out."
Surely that couldn't be right? I needed a second opinion, and called a local friend for some advice. The phone call went pretty much the same as the conversation I had had previously. SO... the general consensus was to wait.
So that's what I did. I sat there and watched it from over the fence. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I recall sending it love and motivational words about getting better, and staying strong.
When someone did come home, it was my father in law (FIL). I hurried over to tell him all about "the sick cow over the back fence." He walked over to inspect this "sick cow", and then after a few minutes of careful consideration, FIL looked at me gravely and said "Yes... there are a few things wrong. Firstly, and most seriously, this is not a cow. It's a steer." * (Which meant nothing to me, but FIL found it quite amusing, and even had a chuckle at my expense.) "And secondly, I think this steer has been poisoned."
The next morning hubby got up early, and reappeared at home mid-morning. I asked how "my steer" was, and was told matter-of-factly that my friend hadn't made it through the night, and had been dragged away. And of course, I cried like a baby.
I suppose the first thing about surviving on a farm, is that you learn quickly that animals DO die, and that often the money you spend trying to save them, far out weighs the money they are worth. Farmers are practical beings, and this is hard for city folk like me to get their heads around. The second thing I learned about living on a farm is that you should know your animals.
A steer is NOT a cow. Just so you know...
* A steer is a castrated male beast.