It was dark when we pulled into the driveway. I saw my brown-eyed farm girl’s eyes fill with tears. I took a deep breath and let her know that we would start looking again first thing in the morning. We had spent the past five hours driving and walking the 6.1 miles between our farm and a neighbor’s home.
Earlier in the day, the older couple that raises some of our calves pulled into the driveway frantically to tell my husband the horrible news. They had been at the farm to pick up four of our heifer calves and headed home. Over six miles from the farm they realized that the door of the trailer had flung open. The quickly turned around, checked on our calves and began the search when the realized they were missing two calves. After about an hour of searching, they came to let us know.
The kids and I had just pulled in the driveway from school when they pulled in behind us. Farmer took the boys as it was time to start afternoon milking. Our daughter and I immediately left the farm to begin our search. We walked multiple times up and down the road. We drove up and down the road more times than I kept count. We stopped at every neighbor’s house and left our contact information. We continued to call out in hopes that she might hear and make some sort of noise. Almost two hours of searching had gone by. There was no sign of either of them.
All of a sudden my daughter let out a scream like I had never heard before. She spotted one of the calves in the brush. I slammed on the breaks and backed up the car. Sure enough, there was one of the calves. We rushed to her only to see that she had road rash and was clearly very shaken up. She didn’t appear to have any major injuries so we brought her to the car, loaded her and rushed home. Farmer and the boys met us in the driveway. It was such an amazing feeling. They unloaded her, we checked her out to make sure she didn’t need immediate medical care (other than her very apparent road rash) and then headed back to look for the other calf.
We had several neighbors that helped look. Friend and family flooded social media and my phone with prayers, asking for updates and offers to help look. We began feeling completely helpless as it began to get dark. Calling off the search for the night completely broke my heart. As caretakers of these animals, it is our responsibility to make sure they have the best life possible while in our care. I felt like a complete failure in that regard. She was going to be hungry, cold and potential killed by predators. She was just a baby after all.
We started the search immediately after the kids were dropped off at school.
You know, there is something about a man walking up and down the road calling out for a young calf. The concerned look on his face. Knowing that he cares so much about a single calf, it made me super proud to be his wife. After a couple of hours of walking, calling for her and talking to neighbors we had to quit searching. We had to take care of the rest of the cows and we had combed every inch of that road so many times. Both of us were completely sick to our stomachs.
We have an older couple that raises several calves for us ever so often. They have backyard cows and too much milk. Yesterday when they loaded up four of our heifer calves, the door did not get secured properly. They noticed while driving but it was too late. They lost two out the back of the trailer. We found one after several hours of searching. She is fine and will make a full recovery. We searched for the other until dark and then again first thing this morning. After at least 7 hours of searching, we have decided to end the search. Our hearts are broken. If farmer looks defeated, it’s because we feel defeated and physically sick over this situation. We are counting our blessings that we found one and praying someone picked up the other and are caring for her.
Later that day I picked the kids up from school. We drove that 6.1 miles slow with the flashers on as the kids called out the window for the calf. We had hoped that since she had now missed two feedings that we would hear her crying out. But no luck. We prayed that God would just show us where she was or that someone picked her up and was caring for her. We pulled in the driveway. I was fully prepared to have “the talk” with them when we saw the piece of paper on our front door. I think all of us tripped over each other trying to get to the door.
They found her. A neighbor found her! I started crying when I called the family that had her on the phone. The kids and I rushed out the door to go pick her up. Earlier that day, the family had heard the calf bellowing. They went to look for her and found that she had been tangled in an old barbed wire fence. The kicker? It was past the area where the couple had turned around. Our thoughts are that maybe they panicked, turned around quickly and she fell out when they did so. So the area where she was found was past where we had been looking. She had only a few superficial cuts and was ready to eat!
It was a crazy 24 hours for this farm family. It was an emotional rollercoaster. We are so thankful that we have both of the calves home. The first calf with the road rash is healing nicely and the second calf has been getting quite a bit of extra milk each feeding. We are very fortunate that this story had a happy ending.