Wait. Why Do You Have a Black Eye?

My Generation

Calves are born backwards and kids get in the wrong place at the wrong times. This is the stuff of farm life.

Published on: March 4, 2013

Oh, calving season. It's off to a roaring start.

John and I had a faint discussion about going out for dinner Saturday night and then we were tired and we decided not to, which turned out well since we wound up pulling a calf at 9:30 instead. Which was really almost as romantic.

And speaking of romance, it's March, which in cat world apparently means it's time for things to start happening. Which is all to say, the entire time we were pulling this calf, the barn cats were loudly, ahem, carrying on by the far wall. Eventually, they moved their operations outside. Suffice to say, barn cat hierarchy is complex.

Then late Sunday afternoon, John and the kids headed out to play in the snow and do chores, and they weren't gone long before Jenna ran breathlessly back to the house: "Dad needs you to help pull a calf!"

Here we go.

And so we commenced to getting the heifer in the alleyway, haltered and putting the straps on the calf. In the midst of all this, Jenna and Caroline came in the barn to watch from outside the alleyway. We keep a two-inch fiberglass pole to slide in behind the animals in the alleyway, to keep them from backing out. We were done getting the heifer ready and wanted to back her up to a wider area of the alley, in case she would go down while we were pulling. So John slid the pole out…rapidly. Jenna was kneeled down. It connected directly with her right eye. Hard.

At approximately the same time, John realized the calf was backwards. Jenna was wailing. John felt terrible. I grabbed her little face and inspected. No blood, but it hurt like the dickens and it was already swelling. But it wasn't ER-worthy. "Go in the house, put the Hello Kitty ice pack on it and lay down. I'll be in in a minute!"

We tried valiantly to pull the calf but it wouldn't budge. Not even a little. So we called the vet. And I went to check on the small child. She was, and is, quite the sad sight. But it will heal.

Was it anyone's fault? I don't think so. I think that sometimes in life, we're just in the wrong places at the wrong time. She could've been further back from the action, but I never dreamed that on the other side of the very sturdy alleyway fence, she could be hurt.  We could've told them not to be in the barn. But how would they ever learn? No. Sometimes, you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens. Unfortunately.

Now she's got another story to tell. And her poor Dad…she can remind him of this one for a long time!

For the record: the calf died. The cow is not exactly perky but she's doing ok. And the child's eye isn't a full-blown shiner. So there's that.