by Delores Topliff
Praying ‘til the cows come has fresh meaning for me. The Sunday before Thanksgiving we planned Thanksgiving early so my older son’s children could join us. At 4 a.m. I put the turkey in the oven, planning to eat around Noon. Everything was nearly table-ready when Thanksgiving exploded.
Last spring I’d ordered three July-born Scottish Highland calves. Their delivery date repeatedly got delayed until this very Sunday. They initially bonded beautifully with my two bigger heifers, their sisters one-year older. But the older heifers turned unpleasant when sharing corn treat, horning the new ones aside until all three young ones bolted through numerous 5-wire electric fences. They skedaddled fast, disappearing into wide open spaces where we knew only three of many neighbors. We don’t own a quad or horse to chase animals. Even when tracked, we couldn’t catch, contain, and drag 200+ lb. beasties home, though son & oldest grand-daughter dashed after them, scraping bellies under fences to avoid 10,000 volts.
The animals’ loss meant huge disappointment for all of us and represented lost sizeable investment. After chasing, we drove around our one mile perimeter, alerting neighbors.
We prayed for cows to come home, although they didn't know "home" yet. We postponed Thanksgiving. Hearing no word, discouraged and disheartened, we learned again we can’t always solve problems ourselves. We called in reinforcements, contacting radio station, police, distributing notes with our name and phone to neighbors in 1-mile circumference, and then beyond. In the process, we met dozens more neighbors, all helpful and concerned, saying, “We’ve all had animal problems. We’ll phone when yours turn up.”
And they did! One calf turned up at a farmer’s one-mile away that Monday. On Tuesday a second appeared further. On Wednesday, the third joined our neighboring dairy farmer’s herd. Thanksgiving was Thursday and Friday had a blizzard with howling winds. On Saturday our tractor pulled the last calf 2.3 miles home. Now all calves are back in the barn but we’re now richer knowing many neighbors who help each other and won’t take pay because, “When ours get out, you’ll help us.”
Next Thanksgiving, we’re planning a quieter day.
What about you? What have you learned through hardship that’s provided lasting treasure?