In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while

if need be, you have been grieved by many trials  1 Peter 1:6 NKJV

In early April a friend came Monday, and again Tuesday to deliver injections of antibiotic to Buff, the Charolais-Angus bull, who had grown too weak to stand. The vet had made a house call at the beginning of the year, tubing Buff for bloat, administering cortisone, vitamin B12 and long-lasting penicillin. The gentle giant, who taught the rewards of grooming outside of one’s own species on the farm, rallied and began eating hay and drinking water.

Bebe hugs Buff

He looked like he was putting on weight. I thought he had turned a corner until he began eating less and less. Wednesday morning, April 8, Buff died at 14 years old. So glad I was for having rubbed his neck and back and kissed him the night before, and he responded by licking my arm and hand.

“No, no, no…this just could not be happening,” I told myself. “I cannot be losing another one of my big guys.”

Raised on a bottle, imprinting me as their mother-figure, I was thrilled to be Buff’s and Sonny’s adoptive parent. There was something surreal about loving and caring for a baby animal who grew to tower over me, yet sustained a relationship of kinship well into adulthood. They never forgot me or what I was to them.

It is impossible to describe the sense of loss, or even the meaning their lives brought to mine. Because of this experience I can better understand how a person’s faith in God can be challenged as when a parent loses a child.

I remind myself: “Trust, I am to trust You. Yet, while I trusted, where were You? If you love me, God, why didn’t you intervene and save him?”

My identity outwardly, and more importantly inwardly, has been torn from me. I can never go back and redo any of it, relive it, the experience of raising them, loving them, caring for them. I can only go forward, forward from here, but forward how?

The how I am learning. Taking baby steps I am rebuilding my faith, not at the base. Just the outer layers were stripped away. I need to replenish, call on Him even when I am too distraught to know how to ask for help. Just His name, Jesus. I trust He will hear my cry and know the answer before I know the question.

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The Sun of Righteousness shall arise

The flashlight reveals Buff reclining in the grass

The flashlight reveals Buff reclining in the grass

With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves  Mal.4:2 NKJV

The youngest of my bovines, Buff, has been battling health challenges of late. After contacting several large animal vets, none would come out to treat a bull without a cattle chute. I could bring him in, they said. But Buff is not very compliant. On a good day, it could take eight hours to load him. He balks at trailers. Spending weeks cajoling and medicating him to the best of my ability, Buff was not improving. The last week he began shedding pounds with a complete loss of appetite.

Inside Chuteclone_0064

Unnerved I approached a neighbor and friend who raised cattle most of his adult life. Either I needed to trailer Buff and take him to the vet or create a temporary chute I told him and asked which he advised. So my friend created a V-shaped cattle chute using two of his 12-foot cattle panels and a small bull gate of mine. We reinforced fence line around two adjoining spaces, one with the chute, and opened it to Buff who graciously entered. TempChute_0061

The vet came out. Buff received subcutaneous penicillin, cortisone and B-12 injections, bloat release, bicarbonate boluses and pour-on wormer. Immediately he began eating hay and grain, as well as consuming water. He is continuing to eat and hydrate, sitting in sunlight in between helpings. The vet took a blood sample and so the chute is remaining for the time being.

I praise the Lord for Buff’s improvement and am grateful my big pal is responding to treatment.

But seek first the kingdom of God

and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matt. 6:33 NKJV

Cutting back on Sonny’s and Holly’s grain ration to avoid health problems has not suited the Brahma. For the last five days he has pressed his weight against four strands of barbwire and snapped them. Not satisfied with remaining in the heifer’s space, which rings his confine, he has gone over her fence to munch on leaves and whatever he found pleasing to his palate. I don’t blame him. He lives in the trees.

The entire reason I published Whippoorwill Calls is to earn income to buy pastureland for the Brahma Sonny, Holly, the baby bull Buff and the two horses, Jack and Bebe. Yearning for my home state, to visit with friends and family, I wanted to move the entire kit and kaboodle east of the Cascades ideally in view of Mt. Rainier, providing it was in keeping with God’s Will for us.

398Entrance East15EastPasturefrmpadThis latest wrinkle and some health challenges facing Buff have led me to look closer. From our home just 3.2 miles along country back roads or seven miles by major streets is a bank owned property. There are numerous amenities specific to our needs with electricity, septic and well water, not to mention a rudimentary barn and outbuildings right down to a cattle chute.

In the meantime I have secured a radio interview with our local arts and entertainment personality with public radio for February 13, but do not, as yet, have a scheduled book signing with a local independent bookstore. Signs measuring 18×28 inches of several drawings are laminated with a gloss finish just waiting to be set on an easel for such an event. Yes, I am following my cues taking steps within my arena and waiting for God to do the rest.

 

 

There are persons for companionship

but then there are friends who are more loyal than family.  Prov. 18:24 CEB

Bebe and Sonny

Bebe licks Sonny (2)

Living in adjacent spaces the horses and bovines became grooming partners. It all began when Buff, the copper-colored Charolais-Angus bull, started licking Bebe’s mane.  Soon Jack, the Palomino paint, began grooming Buff and then both horses included Sonny, the Brahma bull.

Jack licks Buff Mon 5_24_10Bebe hugs Buff

This God—his way is perfect

the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.  Ps 18:30 (NOAB)

For three days I cut grass with a push mower and delivered the cuttings to my farm pals: Sonny, Holly, Buff, Jack and Bebe.

Hay is scarce. Following droughts in neighboring states farmers and ranchers learning of available supplies in West Tennessee traveled with their trailers and hauled full loads back to their animals.

Following breakfast grain Bebe diness on hay

The local farm supply held out serving locals until there was no more.  Last weekend I found someone who had older rolls of mixed grass. Two rolls were delivered the next day. While it lacks that fresh, sweet scent my group is accustomed to at least the cattle will eat it with a sprinkling of green. Except for the edges it is too rough to feed the horses.

Jack eats Bermuda with breakfast

Buff washes up while standing in the morning sun

Yesterday I connected with the person who delivered nine square bales of Bermuda a week ago, and he brought us 15 squares.

We have hay. We have fuel. We have grain and chow for all of us. Everyone is in relatively good health.  And we have a safe place to sleep and good tenants for neighbors.

Life is good on the farm thanks to God’s grace.

July has been

a busy month

Pulling poison ivy vine from tree

Rev. Jim and son Tom arrived early one morning and began stretching three strands of barbwire up the hill expanding Buff’s space among the trees and ground cover of pine needles. Buff did not have a clean, dry square-foot of ground before Rev. Jim and Tom went to work. After a very wet spring Buff’s previously fenced area was tramped down and muddy.

The men pulled vines from trees, helped remove large fallen tree limbs and did not leave until Buff was released into new quarters. By day’s end Buff had repositioned himself and sat in every corner, tasted the foilage and rubbed against sapplings, scratching his backside. A content bovine is he.

Buff tastes foilage

Settling into life

on our new farm

Sonny and Holly together

The Brahma Sonny and 12 year old heifer Holly have been extraordinarily lovey-dovey of late. It must be spring!

Palomino paint Jack has moved to a space adjoining Buff, the Charolais-Angus bull who has been spending time up against their shared fence.

Sweetest of all, chestnut Bebe, whose leg was injured the end of April, is nearly healed. She began prancing about as her grain was served yesterday. New tissue has filled the gouge and a sulfur-oil antifungal crème is being applied to complete the repair. Soon her bandage will be reduced to expose the edges of her wound to the air.

Tiger stripe kittens Ty and Mimi turned one year the end of May and both are solicitous of affection just like their mother Nikki. Tab, Alma, Gordy—orange tabbies—and sister Audrey enjoyed their first anniversary the beginning of June.

The only long hair in the group, Gordy, goes everywhere including the kitchen counter despite my admonitions. He is quick, whether leaping in the air on fly-catching missions or escaping capture jumping from the loft to the living room below.

When storms arrive, which have been occurring frequently, Peek, an all-American canine, panics. So she, and another canine Sam, and 17 year old feline Patches join me in the living room where we watch through the glass door tree branches sway and listen to the rain and sometimes hail spitter-spat on the metal roof.

Watching nature’s showy display with some trepidation we see lightning strikes and hear the thunder on its heels.

By grace we are settling into our new home.