Friday, December 14:

Easy come, easy go.

Not so easy come.  Seven driving hours and one thousand dollars in cash.  Two cows inspected, one bought.  Home, settled in, milking well.  Six days.

This morning after a normal milking, while eating her breakfast, without warning she dropped dead.

Easy go.

As one astute gentleman on an internet forum said, “If you’re going to have livestock, you’re going to have dead stock.”  Nicely put.

This is one of the hard things about the swing from the mechanistic, electronic, digital modern world to the farming world.  When your car dies you take it to the mechanic.  When your cow dies no one can fix it.  When your car dies it’s nobody’s fault.  When an animal dies you think, “what did I do wrong?”  The question carries with it a suggestion of guilt and a weight of implied incompetence:  this, although while the animal lives we don’t take credit for its life, as though we sustained it in being.  Only on its death do we feel suddenly that there must have been some gross oversight on our part.

Animals die of lots of things.  A single sprig of Japanese yew, a common ornamental shrub, will kill a full grown cow.  A wilted wild cherry branch is deadly to the browsing cow – or goat.  Or horse.  Even hay can be poisonous, if the growing conditions have caused the grass to store excessive nitrates.  A piece of forage lodged in an animal’s throat can choke it to death in only a few minutes.  Cows can have heart attacks; and strokes.

Animals die.

The only thing to do is bury the body and move on.  Or, as in the case of this animal, hang draw and quarter.   Hung at 42 degrees for two weeks she should make beautiful ground beef.  Four dollars a pound; you couldn’t do better at WalMart.