One time, it was February and it was cold. I believe that this was the same year that we had had several cows and calves die. To us, family ranchers with a small herd, we're not in this business for the money. We do it because we love it. So when an animal dies on our watch, it's hard. Not because it's a financial loss, which it is, but it's more of a feeling that we let that cow down. We were not there when it needed our help or protection. I know we can't be there 24/7, but still, they are our responsibility.
We had a new calf born the day before Valentine's Day. Then there was a big huge snowstorm that night. Valentine's Day at the family flower shop was buckets of fun, trying to deliver flowers in 2 or more feet of snow. We were worried about the new calf, but didn't have time to go check on him until later that afternoon. The wind blows pretty hard down there, so the snow was piled high in drifts all around the field. Clayton and I drop off our load of hay, and the cows are grateful to have it. They eat with much gusto. But we notice that the new calf is nowhere to be found. Crap. Sometimes when we don't see a calf with its mama, we're not that concerned because often the mama will leave the calf sleeping & will go off and have lunch with her lady friends. It's not a big deal. But this time, with the snow and very cold temperatures, we were worried.
We drove carefully around the entire field. You'd think that it would be easy to spot a black calf in a field covered with white snow, but it's not. There's lots of brush, bushes, bumps, divots, and clumps for a small calf to hide behind. We looked and looked and looked, and were about to give up, when I spotted a black bump not too far from where we were. I jumped out of the truck, and ran over to the small form. It was frozen and stiff. A raven was perched nearby and was pecking the eyes out of the body. My shoulders slumped, and I walked slowly back to the truck, and told Clayton that the calf was dead. Then I cried.