I have to admit it. I’m a little bit tired in the legs and trembly in the lungs tonight.
There was a bit of a kafuffle from the cattle coming around the shoulder of the hill over towards Cwm – y – Gigfran around tea time. The fences aren’t too good over there at the bottom of that field alongside the track and last year some young cattle sailed through the fence and kept going for a couple of miles before stopping to catch breath.
So it seemed fairly sensible after half an hour or so of this for me to get on the quad and go up to take a quick look before turning on the oven to cook dinner.
When I got up there, sure enough, the mob had gathered at the bottom of the field against the suspect stretch of fencing and they were calling to a big old cow two fields below. Well, I knew there was a calf in there with them that was born last week and it needed a tag so I decided on the spur of the moment to open the gate in the corner of that field and let them flow down the track towards the in-by field where they could join the calved cow and be easily gathered into the barn in the next day or two to get that week old calf tagged.
I opened the gate, they poured down the bank and off down the sunken roadway … and then I saw it. High on the slope of that Cwm – y – Gigfran field, on wobbly newborn legs, clinging to the slope at least two-thirds of the way up, 100 feet above me … a new born bull calf whose mother had dropped down with the others and left the field by the gate. Seasoned old campaigner, she had reasonably expected the new offspring would make the rational choice and stayed with its brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles in the moving herd. After all, she was its mother, its only sensible hope of protection and of food and drink to keep it alive … why wouldn’t it tag along with the group?
So where was it?
A hundred feet off up the hill … wobbling about, doing its own thing on a steep and dangerous bank on a set of newly found disco-ordinated legs.
This was going to be easy. I’d just stroll up there, point its head downhill towards the gate the mob had left by, and let gravity do the rest.
I’d forgotten how steep that bit of hill was.
I’d forgotten how much faster four newly born legs could convey 35 kgs. of calf than two fifty year old legs could convey nearly thirteen stone of middle aged gentleman.
And I’d forgotten that good parenting (and that cow really is one of the best) doesn’t preclude the possibility of waywardness in unwise and slightly jumpy offspring.
Just as I got near the thing, it shot off up the bank, then turned across the face of the hill and was away … in the opposite to optimal direction – you understand? … red faced middle aged farmer in far too hot pursuit, puffing, thumping of chest pump, banging inside head … trying to cut it off with the angle of my run.
It was clearly time for a quick word of prayer … on the run. I have to say that (sadly) … this wasn’t immediately effective.
The calf (finding surprising self-destructive strength now in those wobbly legs) turned to charge the fence. But that didn’t stop it. It pulled back a bit, moved along a bit, and charged the fence again … fully 40 yards from me. It was hurting itself in its waywardness and there was nothing I could do to get near enough to it to stop it. By now the rest of the cattle were probably 150-200 feet below, bellowing to it to come down. It wasn’t listening to them or responding constructively to me. It just kept panicking and hitting the fence. Moving along. Hitting fence again.
It couldn’t just be left there to calm down. That calf needed regular colostrum and until I could get it onto the right angle to turn its head and discover that downhill was easier, and that the wiser voices lay below calling it back into the herd, the situation was really looking a bit useless. What a palaver!
And its all left me sitting here now tonight with slightly tingly, burning bronchia, still coughing up dust from lungs spring-cleaned by the exertion, drifting towards a hot coffee and a little medicine before bedtime, and contemplating the many layers of this parable of the wayward calf with the extremely good parent. Having a good parent is NO guarantee of anything … unless a calf has the heart to go to it. And the pains that calf can meet with (and cause) on the way! Oh boy!
John 6:44-45 ““No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’
Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.”
Sleep well, people!