Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude (no. 1)

For the record, these reflections on the last year will be numbered, but those numbers will not reflect a hierarchy. Post no. 1 will not indicate a collective or superlative heart swell beyond what no. 7 may induce. They will be random and meandering.

I am grateful that Lucky's neck doesn't look like this anymore!

These photos were taken in the middle of July. The two Dutch belted - cross steers had come out of a long winter looking shabby and lacking good condition. When the weather warmed and the pasture flushed, they were revived. Their coats were shiny, they were putting on weight and they were behaving normally - content to eat and drink and socialize as they pleased. Nothing had changed in how we were managing them, and then one day Edmund noticed that something weird was happening to Lucky's neck. It looked like he had aged 100 years overnight. Look at his wrinkled face! Those cross hatches! Those hairless bumps!

Cancer? ! ? !

Lucky wasn't uncomfortable. He wasn't scratching himself on anything or making any noise. He wasn't put off his food or water. It was mysterious. We asked our neighbor Don to come look at him. He thought it was ring worm, but cows usually catch ringworm from infected barn stalls, and Lucky hadn't set foot in a barn in months. I posted photos on a well trafficked herd health forum - same idea. Some friends of ours listened to my description, looked over the photo I sent them, and searched through their veterinary manual with me on the line. Their answer was in line with the others - maybe it was ringworm or maybe it was mange. Both ailments could be treated naturally with sunlight and air. So what more was there to do? Wait. Waiting is fine if you are not worried, but I was worried; worried that all of our cows would catch it; that they would be miserable; that we would get it; that we would be miserable; that it would be worse than I feared.

Well, it was wasn't. We just gave it time. Lucky gave it to Ned, but Ned didn't get it as bad. Both cows have since cleared up, and none of the Kerrys caught it. One interesting thing I learned about cows in the process is that, unlike humans who can get ringworm multiple times, cows get it once and are done with it. Wow. That's one of a very few things that cows do not get worse than humans do - something they might want to add to their gratitude list.

Beyond that, I'm grateful for the opportunity to reflect on and showcase here the absurdity and hell of entertaining fear with one's attention (fear is SO entertained by your attention). Don't do it. It's a waste of your time.


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