This past week, we separated the last of the spring calves from their mothers. My middle daughter was in PA and Watson was with friends, so Julia and my youngest daughter and I got the herd moved into the corral behind the barn ourselves.
Once we got the bulls out, which was a little touchy, it wasn’t hard work to separate the calves.
I love working with my daughters. We laugh and have a good time. They’re considerate, and there’s never any argument about who’s doing more work. In fact, we kind of compete as to who can do the most. We’re still relaxed and don’t get crazy about stuff. It’s fun. : )
I did miss one calf—all my fault—and it started back out toward the pasture with a group of cows. Julia and my youngest daughter both said later that they didn’t realize I could run that fast, and I have to admit I didn’t realize it either, but I did catch the calf and managed to get him back so we didn’t lose him in the pasture.
We worked steadily and finally got all the steers in one pen and all the heifers in another with all the cows back out to pasture.
Once we had that done, we took a little break. The girls stood with me, leaning against the fence, hot and sweaty, but smiling and agreeing that it had been a really fun morning.
I love that when you do it right, work is fun, and I honestly enjoy that family time more than game nights or movie nights and almost as much as ice cream on the porch. : )
When Watson was ready to head to PA, he backed the trailer up to the chute and we ran the groups of calves through.
The chute is about 2-1/2 feet wide. Wide enough for a full-grown, one-ton bull to squeeze through. The calves we were working with were between 400 and 600 pounds, so there was a little wiggle room as they went up the chute.
My youngest daughter and I were pushing the calves into the chute, then she closed the gate behind me while I stayed behind the last calf, urging him to keep going.
Watson was at the trailer, running the end gate and keeping the calves on while also keeping them from turning around at the elbow at the end of the chute—the only place wide enough for them to turn.
Julia and Ethyl stood outside of the chute to the left, pushing the front calves up. Ethyl got a little carried away and bit a calf’s leg, which offended that calf and he kicked back. He missed Ethyl but hit Julia through the gap in the boards.
She’s not gotten kicked much, and that was a tough one—right on the knee. It’s swollen and black and blue, but she assured us she was okay and kept working.
The first two batches of calves went on without any other incident.
I was running the third batch up when Watson couldn’t keep the calves on the trailer and also keep them from turning. One got completely turned around and came back down the chute toward me.
There’s not much room to grab a toehold, but I managed to get up—one leg on each side of the wall of the chute—but not high enough.
That calf barreled down, went under me, and knocked my feet out backward, so I fell facedown in the mud.
Now, I don’t know if you all watch bull riding, but if you have, I’m sure you notice that when those guys get bucked off and land flat out on the ground, they don’t stay down. I’m not sure how old I was when I learned when you fall down, you get up immediately, but I’m glad I did.
I was at least standing when the second calf hit me.
I didn’t have time to get up on the sides of the chute, but I was very thankful for that little bit of wiggle room. It would have hurt a lot worse if it had been a cow trying to squeeze past me. I slapped against the boards but not hard enough to break anything.
Have any of you ever gotten a bruise on the callouses right below where your fingers join your hand? I never had before, but I had a nice black one, almost a rectangle, there from holding onto the rough-cut lumber when my feet were yanked out from under me. In my opinion, my bruise wasn’t quite as nice as Julia’s knee. Although to hear us both moaning and groaning later, I think we hurt equally bad. ; )
Thankfully, my youngest thinks quick on her feet, and when the first calf came back, knocking my feet out, she had opened the gate behind me, letting both calves back out into the holding pen, so they didn’t trample me again. : )
We brought those two up a second time, and they went on the trailer with no problems. I guess they just needed a practice run.
Anyway, Watson left, and that evening, the girls and I sat on the front porch and watched a beautiful sunset. We talked and laughed and discussed what makes working with someone fun, what kind of character it takes, and how giving grace when someone makes a mistake is right, since it’s what you want others to do to you (even if they don’t).
I have always loved picking out lessons from real life and “teaching” them to my kids as I make a statement that maybe is a little “off” according to what the world believes, but it makes them think more deeply and consider what the Bible says.
We actually talked a little about Nana as Julia mentioned that she was surprised that none of us were more upset at her death considering how close we all were to her.
We talked about how having God as Someone to run to only works if you actually have a relationship with Him to begin with, since a person never wants to run to a stranger for comfort.
How daily devotions and time with the Lord pay off when “something big” happens.
How Christians can be happy, even joyful, in the midst of sorrow, and how she kind of understood why people might need to turn to alcohol or drugs or other addictions to numb their pain if they couldn’t find succor in the Lord.
Deep thoughts, but fitting in that afterglow of hard physical labor. In the satisfaction of knowing you worked through fear and pain. The comfortable companionship of bonding through danger and working with people who make something that could have been hard fun. Something that could have been an odious job they couldn’t wait to be done with into something you can’t wait to do again.
With smiles and laughter and that happy glow that seems to mark the very best memories.
Somehow, all that seems to cultivate a desire to grow and be better. Not just for yourself, but because you get a glimpse of how good life can be. Of how knowing God and of how following the way He’s shown us makes a big difference in how much we enjoy everyday life, even work.
And as the moon shone down brightly and the stars came out and the night breeze brought all those sweet nature smells, it was simple and good to be filled with that happy, warm feeling when you’ve done a hard, dangerous, and necessary job and done it well with people you love.
As I write, those are the feelings I try to bring out in my books – the hard work, the fun and the feeling of satisfaction and pride in helping to feed a nation as the sun goes down on another good day, and you just feel the goodness of the Lord settle in your soul.
Thanks so much for spending time with me this week.
USA Today best-selling author Jessie Gussman writes sweet and inspirational romance from her farm in central Virginia. Having attended, but never graduating from the school of hard knocks, Jessie uses real life on the farm to inspire her cowboy, rural and blue-collar fiction.
When she’s not chasing kids, cows and the occasional roll-away haybale, Jessie enjoys wading in Naked Creek and not cleaning her house. Most of the time her main goal is to keep from catching herself on fire…again.
If you enjoy fun stories with vivid characters showcasing strong families with a ribbon of faith tying everything together, you might enjoy Jessie’s books.
21 thoughts on “The Just Man Falleth Seven Times, yet Riseth Again”
I loved that Jessie. Hope ya’ll heal quickly and glad it wasn’t worse. Kim
Thank you! I’m glad it wasn’t worse, too!
I grew up on a small farm, and the sale of calves helped put me through college.
I love it – not many people say that. : )
So good to see you, Jessie! I hope you and Julia heal quickly. I always love to hear about what goes on at the farm. I love reading your books, because they are about real-life situations and inspirational.
It’s good to see you, too! Ha! Writing farm stories is one of the things I love best! So glad you enjoy reading them! : )
I have always thought it would be terrible to go through difficult times and not know the Lord. He is the only One who can sustain me through all of life! Also to know that our loved ones are with the Lord makes our grief not so hard.
I agree completely and have often thought that myself. How do people with no hope cope with life? That truly baffles me.
I enjoyed reading your post. Your adventures are always fun to read, but I’m glad the injuries were not too bad.
Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoy them! And, yes, injuries are a serious thing, but we’ve been blessed. : )
What a day! I think people underestimate the hard work farming and raising cattle is. But, hard work can be satisfying, too.
Thank you for the reminder.
Ha. Someone was just saying on my daughter’s social media that people don’t understand what it takes to get the food they eat to their table. I agree. But I also absolutely agree that hard work is satisfying!
I miss my life on the farm, and Jessie always reminds me of some of the best times I had. A family that can work closely together is not the norm, now-a-days, and it is a shame that the world keeps finding ways to separate family members. Even with all the hard work, Jessie has the best life! I love that she writes all her life values into her books. I want to fill my whole bookshelf with nothing but Jessie’s books. My ereader is already full!
Oh! You are the sweetest! And I agree – it’s so nice when families can work together. It’s fun and there are so many lessons, but it’s also best for strengthening the family! You know, because you’ve been there. : )
I’ve always loved working with my family whether it’s animals, building a house or working in the kitchen.
Agree completely – working with family is the best, no matter what you’re doing. : )
Sounds like the perfect day with your girls. I had to laugh when you said that you like to teach your kids from life lessons. I’ve always tried to do that (and still do even though my kids are adults). I will always remember the time I was in the middle of one of those lessons and younger daughter, who was about 12 at the time, asked, “do you have to turn everything that happens into a teaching moment?” Of course I do. It’s in the Mom job description!
Love your stories and your books. Thank you.
Haha! My kids have said that to me, too. lol It’s become something they tease me about. : )
Thanks so much for sharing. Since our children are grown and have families of their own, we don’t get those opportunities very often anymore. We have never farmed, but had some great work days. We cut firewood at 9,000 ft. in the Rockies when the girls were in grade school. They learned rapidly how to properly load small logs in the trailer and pickup for the trip home. It was work, but you couldn’t ask for a better place to do it. After retiring here in TN, they helped build an addition to the garage and house. They were up with their dad putting on the metal roof. Everyone hauled rocks and built a beautiful rock wall in the back yard. Hard work together is a bonding activity. As you said, you work hard, get bruised and sore, but the day’s accomplishments make it all worth while.
Thank you so much! I love to read the stories about what is happening on the farm. God bless you.
I always love hearing about families doing something together. It is good that the kids can learn from a parent as they do the work.
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