I probably need to start using a travel agent to arrange my vacations because setting up my own is not working out so well.
Perhaps that's because I keep going to the family farm in Wellsville, Mo., and trying to fill in for my son, Matthew. Last week he was in Washington, D.C., touring with the Missouri chapter of Agricultural Leadership of Tomorrow.
This is the third time he has been gone for a few days with this group. It is the second time he has been gone while some of his cattle were having calves.
All I can say is a paraphrase from "Gone with the Wind": I don't know nothing about birthing no baby cows.
Luckily we have neighbors and relatives who do and they watch out for us and help with other chores.
It always is an adventure. For example, sometimes the baby cows don't come out right away and have to be pulled, a very messy process.
Then there was the baby calf whose mother didn't seem to catch on to the feeding thing. Her milk quickly dried up and baby had to be bottle-fed.
So there I was, sitting in the mud, wrestling the fairly strong calf while my mother-on-law shoved a large cow-style bottle with milk replacement in his mouth.
Mama cow, meanwhile, watched placidly and then began to lick me in the face as if thanking me for helping save her baby.
"I didn't sign up for this," I said. I was thinking that would have made a great picture for one of those "Love is ..." posters.
I also attended my first bull auction Saturday night near Marthasville, Mo. That isn't the middle of nowhere but you can see it from there.
My son left a list of four registered Hereford bulls for us to choose from and a money limit. Amazingly, when we got there we learned that his two first choices would be the first two to be auctioned.
The bidding started but no one jumped in. I raised my card and quickly bought the first bull for well under the limit I was given.
My son wanted to know if we stayed to see any of the other auction action. I laughed. It was cold. The auction was in an open barn. We only needed one. Meanwhile back on the farm the stove needed firing, the cattle needed feed and the baby needed a bottle. We got up and left.
I'm glad to be back at work -- away from big, balky cattle -- doing something I actually signed up to do.
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