“Calving season is the worst. Especially when you’re on quarantine.” — Caroline Spangler, age 11
Welcome to “quarancalving” in 2020.
There’s no end in sight, because the calves are still coming and the kids are still home. Their dad, on the other hand, has perhaps never been happier. He’s got free labor on demand all day, and in crisis schooling, it can count as both ag and PE. Score.
The kids have gotten in on pulling calves, moving pairs, tagging calves and, on the harder days, prolapses and vet calls and dying calves. And of course, there’s the mud.
One day a week or so ago, Caroline’s former show heifer Missie calved out in the mud, in the back of the lot. It’s her lot in life to do things the hard way, and I supposed there’s some comfort in knowing she stuck to her guns even in calving. But they couldn’t stay out there, so my husband grabbed Caroline and Nathan, 15, and a sled, and went to rescue the pair.
They loaded up the calf and proceeded to pull her to the barn — about the length of a football field — through the mud and mess, with the cow trailing behind. The kids did the pulling and their dad did the keeping-the-cow-at-a-safe-distance.
“Missie wasn’t a fan of it,” Caroline deadpanned. We assume she was a fan of the warm, dry barn, though.
It’s been a tough few weeks in rural America, both for calving in the mud and for quarantining at home. But here’s what I know: Just like our kids, farm and ranch kids all over the country are spending more time working with their families, learning more and seeing more than they usually do this time of year. They’re getting planters ready and washing equipment. Changing irrigator nozzles. Painting barns. But mostly, working together.
The mud’s been deep, but the lessons have been, too.
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