Monday, June 23, 2008

Loss

In the little triangular field, across the lane from the barn, is a Welsh Black cow. She had a calf, it was hers, she was its fierce protector and now it is gone. I don't know why. She is bereft, confused and pained by her loss.

Today she has spent in search; in perpetual motion, pacing - pacing the field's perimeter. Her udder, taut between her legs is swollen with milk which will not now be needed and will drip uselessly, drop by white drop into the grass. She bawls a raucous moan which breaks my heart.

I am a mother too and this most terrible of separations churns my gut.

14 comments:

Elizabethd said...

How terribly sad. Animals have feelings, dont they. I remember my cat grieving over a deaad kitten, and trying to bring it back to life.

Fennie said...

Was the calf taken away so the cow could be milked? But I agree, it's always horrid when a mother loses her offspring and cows bellow with grief when they lose their calves. I suppose we should think about this every time we buy a cheap bottle of milk.

Exmoorjane said...

It is an awful sound, isn't it? My parents used to live next to a dairy farm and I hated it when the calves were taken away as the keening was awful.

Blossomcottage said...

Oh dear how sad for it, I know that they can make the most awful sound even when they are taken at away at a later stage and the animal is almost ready for it, but when the baby is so young its heart rendering.
Blossom

Zoë said...

So sad - but it's part of the reality of farming and expecting milk 12 months of the year.

Zoë

Milla said...

how tragic - I then wrote a load of naive twaddle which shows how little I know about the farming process. Are you saying that the calf was killed now that it's duty is done in prompting milk supply from the mother? How wicked if so.

kissa said...

All us mothers can feel her pain. We too are surrounded by cows which come and go once they have been fattened up for the abbatoir. This is the reality of farming in the real world.Dreadful sound of a keening animal.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Oh Mountaineer it would break my hear too. I hate it when cows and calves are separated. Here you can here the mothers crying right across the glen and yes that is the price of milk . . .

LittleBrownDog said...

That's so sad, Mountainear. Yes, animals do have feelings and the bond a mother feels with its offspring is one of the most primal forces of nature.

mountainear said...

She has been quieter today but still paces the field.

I'm sure I will find out why she is without her calf eventually - and there must be a good reason.

This is not a dairy herd. The calves on the fields around us are raised for meat and are suckled by their mothers until they go to market. They are together for quite a long time judging by the 'teenage' beasts that still try to suckle up to Mum. Each calf and the cow that bears and rears it is a precious commodity. On the whole I think the animals that are reared here have a pretty good life and our farming neighbours are good stock keepers.

The price that is paid for a carton of milk is another matter entirely...

Mopsa said...

Oh dear, do let us know when you do, M'ear. An experienced suckler mum probably knows she should have her calf about her for a long while and feels it even more keenly (I'm guessing) than a dairy cow. My ewes are starting to dry up now and the lambs are becoming more independent every day. As soon as hay is made, weaning will be top of the list.

Frances said...

You know, living in the vast city that I do, I would never have know of the experience that you described, if you had not described it so very eloquently.

Thank you. I feel so said for that cow. Whatever the reason that her calf is not with her.

xo

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It is sad when you think about it for too long. I hate the day when we have to separate the ewes and the lambs. They spend about 2-3 days crying out for eachother then suddenly there's silence. It usually comes from the ewes first.

CJ xx

Lindsay said...

Just found your blog - and what a good one it is too! Love your header picture.

So sorry about the cow. Our garden backs on to a field with a view of the local farm. At the momeht we have a beef herd grazing but there is a sad sight of a bull who is terrible lame and he actually falls over and remains lying down far too long.