Happy Birthday, Norman

I turned forty-five yesterday. It’s the start of the second half of my fifth decade. I’m okay with that. I feel good. My husband tells me I still look good. Of course, I tell him he says that because he really has to. The alternative would just be mean. I’m still spoiled to have him say it often. I have been blessed well beyond what I deserve. I have four incredible kids in spite of all I have done to mess them up. There’s not a bad apple in the bunch. And I have great friends. Really great friends. And extended family? Well, let me tell you a bit about my family…

The biggest laugh I got on my birthday came from my brother. My OLDER brother. He turns FIFTY this year. I wish my telling that would get under his skin, (once a little sister, always a little sister) but it won’t. He doesn’t care. Men are like that.

My brother called me two times on my birthday. The first time, I was in the middle of a sweet birthday dinner that my husband and kids had put together for me, and I hated to break that up by answering my phone. So he called me again later that night. He scolded me for not answering my phone earlier, and how that foible had caused me to miss out on a great adventure. Then he launched into telling me what had transpired since his first phone call.

My parents own the farm that used to belong to my grandparents. My brother and my dad still keep cows on the farm. They raise them, sell them. Sometimes we eat one or two. It’s a lot of work. It’s springtime, so it’s time for little calves to be born. Mostly cows can manage this without too much interference from anyone. Occasionally, they require a hand. Yesterday one did. Apparently this young cow was trying in vain to have her calf, and it just wasn’t happening for her.

In rushes my brother to be midwife to a cow. So he starts telling me how he attached chains to the part of the calf that was already seeing sunshine, and with a tractor facilitated the delivery of said calf. I said, “YOU DID WHAT?” Apparently, this is not so uncommon as you city slickers might think. He said he tried pulling on the thing by hand, but they are slippery little suckers, and this one was quite tightly wedged inside it’s mother. Hence the chains. Well, after quite a struggle to birth the calf, it eventually did come on out. Then he noticed the thing wasn’t breathing. He thought, “Oh no you don’t. I’ve worked too hard to get you out for you to die on me!” So what do you think he did next? Yep. Mouth to snout resuscitation. Ewww!

You’d think his job was done now at this point. But no. Now that the calf was out, both the calf and the mother needed to be put up in a pen. I’m not quite sure why, but I was just listening… and laughing, and crying, and wetting my pants. As you can imagine, after having a calf pulled out of her rear end by a tractor, the mother cow was exhausted, and likely a little peeved, and decided to lay down. She had refused to lie down during her ordeal. Even post-baby this mom weighs over half a ton. She generally can go when and where she wants at that size, but my brother, weighing considerably less, needed her in the pen.

So with the help of my dad, his father-in-law and his sister-in-law, they tried first one thing and then another to get the weary cow up and at ‘em. They tried putting a rope around her neck and pulling her. Again, half a ton. They tried nudging her with a riding mower. Half a ton. They tried rolling her onto a piece of 4”x8” plywood and pulling her with the tractor. This she really opposed and finally decided to stand up. But she refused to budge and after a little while lay back down. I’m thinking a few pieces of dark chocolate Godiva candy might have worked just then to motivate her.

Finally, he had to bring out the birthing chains, and pulled her into the pen with the tractor. Dear Lord, what I would not have given to have seen all that. Then he put momma cow and baby cow snout to snout so they could get acquainted. All I could think of was how momma probably smelled my brother’s scent on her baby’s mouth and thought, what the…?

When I could stop laughing and could speak again, I told him we had to name the calf Norman, after the one in City Slickers, and how we could never eat him or sell him. Norman should get to live on the farm for all of his days. I can’t wait to get up to the farm and see that calf for myself. Happy Birthday, Norman!

Yep, life is funny. Thank God!

One thought on “Happy Birthday, Norman

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