Sometimes it is difficult to come up with topics to post on the blog. I sit and stare at the white page and wonder with the routineness of the farm how I can write anything entertaining, informative, or provocative. Today is one of those days.
I have been working at the elementary school the past couple of weeks helping the youngest students practice the reading skills they learned in class. It has been great fun, but I also forgot about how germy little children can be. Being on the farm, I do not get out among people very often to get exposed to the newest “bug” going around. At the school, my body was assaulted by a full frontal attack and I suspect others at my flanks.
Friday I had to do what I never wanted to do. I called in sick. A sore throat, fever with chills, swollen tonsils and glands, even a mild cough kept me up nearly all night. I still could manage at school, but not without exposing dozens of children to whatever ails me. So, although I felt disappointed in myself for getting sick, I bit the bullet and called.
The result of my illness is I have not been over to see the cattle. Mike keeps me informed how they act, whether they are eating well, if anyone has the scours (again) and so forth, but it just isn’t the same as seeing it for myself. I know, for example, that Rowdy does not want to eat in the afternoon until his neck is stroked and he gets his “calf cuddles.” (That is sort of a hug of his body against your legs which he loves.) I also suspect, that even when I remind Mike, he probably is not hugging the calf, even if he does bother to stroke Rowdy’s neck. Mike would prefer to pop a bottle in their mouth, have them drink in record speed, and leave their pen to do his other chores. While that is understandable, I personally believe that that youngest calves still need their mama….and that is our role, at least until they get on dry feed.
One of the last times I went to the “nursery,” Rowdy was under the weather. He refused his bottle and stood as though paralyzed rather than acting as his head-butting, heel-clicking, joyful self. I motioned my hand to him in a ‘come here’ fashion and he slowly made his way close to me as I began to stroke his soft neck and rub his sides. I spoke gently to him and he inched a bit closer for his calf-hug as I sat on a bale of straw. I continued talking to him, stroking his copper hair and gazing into his beautiful brown-black eyes and he seemed to be crying. As he faced me, I reached my arm around his neck and “hugged” his side towards me. Rowdy turned his head and laid it on my arm, cuddling for a few minutes, as if to say “Mama, I don’t feel good.” I have never seen a calf cuddle with a human for comfort and it really worried me. It was hard to leave the nursery and head for the house after Mike gave him some antibiotics– I suspected Rowdy would be gone the next day.
He wasn’t! Rowdy was almost back to his old self when Mike arrived. While I am sure the antibiotics were working, I cannot help thinking my “hug therapy” also played a vital role in his recovery. After all, a mother cow would likely cuddle with him, lick his neck, and be near him as he lay ill. Right? Right.
So today I am still feverish, I have a sore throat and swollen glands, I am coughing, and my ears hurt. I think need someone to give me hug therapy and some antibiotics, too. Unfortunately, it is Sunday and there is no doctor available to see me. Also, Mike is on poop patrol. He is mucking out the nursery so the babies can stay dry and healthy and making preparations for new arrivals. My own hug-therapy will have to consist of petting the tail-wagging barkers here at the house and, Good Lord willing, feeling well enough to enjoy the wonderful kindergarten-hugs I get every day while at the school.
PS My illness lasted nearly three weeks, although I was still able to work for most of the time. I loved working with the kindergarteners for the month. I hope their funding will return and I can continue the work I started.