Hard work. Big Rewards. Bigger blessings. Life on a South Dakota ranch.
Ranch kids sure seem to learn about death early, and sometimes often. The Wild Child has had a tough go with her livestock this year. Her 3-year-old cow, Kaydee Cow, sloughed her calf in January and went to the sale a few weeks later. She hated to see Kaydee Cow go. Her first cow-induced sadness.
Her 2-year-old heifer, Lula Belle, had a runt calf in March– Brown Eyes. She calved during the night and I carried him to the barn. He was so little, but a spunky little thing. When the WC got up the next morning I bundled her up and took her to the barn to show her Lula Belle’s calf. On the way down there she was adamant that she was going to name the calf Blue Eyes because she was sure it would have blue eyes just like she did. When we got there she just shrugged her shoulders and said “Well– I guess I better name it Brown Eyes.”
Brown Eyes went to heaven when he was about six weeks old. He had looked a little out of sorts when we were sorting some pairs, but nothing that we were concerned about. The next morning Pine went out to check on him, came back to the house and said, “I need to talk to you in the bedroom.” I knew it couldn’t be good. He had just found Brown Eyes dead. So we broke the news to the Wild Child. She took it like a trooper, said “Well I guess GOD needed him”, and then wanted to go out and see him and check on Lula Belle. That’s what we did.
We found Lula Belle on the feed ground filling her belly. The WC says “She looks so sad.” I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. Lula Belle looked anything but— she only looked happy to have hay in her mouth. That afternoon we brought in another calf off an old crippled cow and grafted it on to LB. The WC was in the barn that night checking on the progress. She told the graft not to worry that Lula Belle was going to take good care of her, and it seems she has. She was just so matter of fact about it all.
Yesterday she had another rude meeting with death.
Our old dog, Better, went to heaven. It was a sad, sad day– for all of us– but especially for Papa as Better was mostly his. He buried him in the pasture along side of his last faithful old dog. Better was 14-years-old. This morning the Wild Child said to her dad, “Did you know that Better died yesterday, Dad?” He had been on a parts run when it happened. Then she started crying. With her crying, me now crying too, and him with tears in his eyes he said “I did, Kate. It makes me so sad.” And here I sit crying again. Dang dog! I just hugged her and said “Oh don’t cry Sweetie. Better is in heaven with GOD. He doesn’t hurt anymore. He can run and play again. He is probably even chasing rabbits!”
“MOM!”, she replied! “If the rabbits are in heaven they are already dead so he won’t have to chase them too far.” Her view of the situation was so enlightening. She just knows that when friends die they are going to be with GOD. She was sad, but realistic. It happens. It sucks. But she knows and trusts that all is still well with the world. She should give lessons.