We were gone for two days and came home to find water flowing in the canal and a green haze smudged across the willows. The quakie out my office window has the tiniest, shiniest light green leaves. There is life all around us in a rush to birth, bud, nest, bloom, leaf and grow.
We got several hundred calves branded over three days. Seth and Anna were home to help and Anita brought a yummy lunch every day. It’s a family affair, along with some extra good help. Our friend Alan, a highschool teacher in Boise, drives 4 hours each way to help us. He’s castrated thousands of calves over the years. Let’s see . . . several thousand x 2, since there are two testicles per calf . . . . .
Besides making steers out of bulls, we give them vaccinations and a hot iron brand for identification. They don’t like it, of course, and lay around for a couple of days, a little shell-shocked that life isn't as carefree as they'd come to believe. Still, by day three they’re up and running in packs across the pasture again. I liken it to immunizing a human infant. Yes, they squall when they get the shots, but in a day or so they’re fine and don’t think about it again.
I took a turn at putting calves in the chute. I like to put my hands on their bodies and feel their thick, luxuriant coats. I make a game out of seeing how gentle I can touch them and how gently they respond. Of course, don't kid yourself about their gentleness; come armed with boots and chaps because they can eat your lunch whenever they want!
Every spring I get the pruning bug. This year I spoiled myself with a new set of pruners and a handy folding saw. I’ve been having a ball cleaning up along our canal. I worked for 4 days, sawing, snipping, hauling, piling - and then Mark arrived with a truck and tractor and took it all away.
And as I prune, I think of how analogous this activity is to a life well lived. How many of us clutter our lives with endless “stuff” that, frankly, needs hauled away to the burn pile? We’re like the unkempt kid at supper with his shirt sleeves dragging in the soup that needs a comb put through his hair and his shirt tucked in. We need to cut back the dead, whack away the wayward suckers and the cluttered lines, and reveal the graceful and uncluttered arcs of our life.
|the '77 Ford can handle it|
|oh, that our minds were this peaceful|