Friday, January 21, 2011

We can't keep them all forever

It's probably a good thing it didn't work out for me to make the trip to the sale barn yesterday because I'd have been a blubbering mess. We sent Naddy to the sale barn along with the bull calves.

Usually, I take the bull calves to the sale barn on Thursdays because we like to get them there early. It seems like we get a better price for our calves if they're there right away.

Well, yesterday when I went to get the cattle trailer from the neighbors, we discovered a flat tire on the trailer. By the time the tire was changed and Naddy and the calves were loaded, it was too late for me to make the trip, so Glen took them.

I stood in the yard and watched as the truck and trailer drove away, tears freezing to my cheeks. Despite my resolve to be strong, something about selling Naddy was too hard for me to accept without tears.

Naddy, along with Mara and Delilah, was part of a trio of cows that was remarkable. They were springers when we started farming and all three of them looked alike — big, framy heifers with nearly identical markings. Naddy went on to body down into an exceptionally deep cow, just like her mother.

All of the springers that first year were special to me because they were the calves born the summer I worked at home during college. I had named them and got them off to a good start, but I never knew for sure what their futures would hold until we decided to start farming.

Part of what made selling Naddy so hard was the reasoning behind the decision. We've been talking for awhile about how we're going to handle the calving rush when it starts (any day now!). We don't want to switch cows right now and there's nobody else to dry off for awhile, so the only way to free up stalls in the barn is to say goodbye.

Naddy got put on the list because, well, she was old, and because she was having some issues with udder health. She calved in with twin heifer calves in October and it seemed like that pregnancy really took a lot out of her. Plus, we had a difficult time getting her to settle during her last two lactations and Glen didn't think breeding her back this time would be any easier. All the same, we aren't ones to give up easily on cows, and I suspect that if space wasn't an issue Naddy would've been around a while longer.

I just keep telling myself that, as much as I'd like to, we can't keep them all forever.

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