Updated: Jan 30, 2020
We checked Val the day before and knew she was close to delivery. I headed out super early the next morning to check on her. What I saw broke my heart and sent me into a panic. There she was on the ground straining with all her might. It was Maundy Thursday. I’ll never forget it. Here was my beautiful Val, our first A2A2 girl. She had already delivered 2 healthy calves and hadn’t had a bit of trouble. This was her third calving and I was expecting it to be just as easy.
I called Matt and my Dad. My sister got there. We always call in my sister for animal crises. She quickly reminds us that she trained to be a human nurse and not a vet. And we remind her that she’s all we’ve got. I’m always amazed at how God takes our little knowledge and combines it together to work as a team.
The vet was out of town. We had never had a difficult birth, but God was good. We had recently met an amazing couple who had been farming longer than we had. He was a vet. He was driving to Pennsylvania to see his daughter, but with our cell phone resting on Val’s back, he began to talk us through what to do.
My mom watched all the kids for hours while we realized all of the supplies we DIDN’T have. My husband with no gloves quickly discovered that if you have to reach your hands into the back of a cow, they will poop all over you at the same time. Our friend Hue was so kind and talked us through each step. We had a true breech birth, the most difficult calving situation. But we got the calf pulled. Like most breech births, the umbilical cord had snapped and the little calf had suffocated and died.
I wept. This was our first calf that we had lost. Our attention turned quickly to Val. With our friend guiding us by phone, we gave her calcium and learned how to give an intravenous calcium drip and a bolus of CMPK. She improved slightly, but she couldn’t get up.
We gave her a second round of calcium and IV around midnight that night hoping against hope that she would make it. I sat with her most of the night. I cried and felt hopeless as I wrestled with wondering if we could have done things differently. I know now we couldn’t have. But at that time, the what ifs were running strong.
So, on Good Friday, the same day that our Savior – the one who owns the catlle on a thousand hills – laid down His life, our sweet Val died. I learned a lot that Holy Week about death and life through the lives of our animals and I was reminded that we serve a God who knows life and death and all the pain that death brings. And as Sunday dawned I was reminded that in the midst of death, hope in our Risen Savior springs up anew.