I cringed, sympathy pain for the cow that was being lifted into the air by our HydraBed pickup. The chain hooked up to her allowed us to maneuver the cow who’d just given birth.
A prolapsed birth.
Her entire uterus was on the outside of her body now.
The sex education I received on the ranch was more useful than any book they presented to me in school. I was up close and personal with a womb that had just carried a baby calf for months. It was bright in color, pink, and covered with tiny purple raisins—little nodules that looked like brains.
“Lift her up, Kelc,” Dad directed me as he rolled up his sleeves. I pressed the button located under the steering wheel of the pickup.
“Alright! That should be good!” I hopped down from the pickup seat and ran to the back, where Dad was getting ready to “operate.” I was directed to control the clean water. Dad washed his hands and his arms before he started to work on her.
“Those little brain things are where the baby gets its nutrients from,” Dad explained as he started to push the uterus back into the cow. She hung from the HydraBed, helpless. He continued to wash water over her uterus as he pushed it back in. My job was to help him wash his hands continuously. He wanted to keep his hands clean, keep everything he could out of the mama cow.
Once the uterus was back in place, I thought we were done, but Dad pulled out a massive needle and baling twine. He slowly stitched her up, a barrier to attempt to keep her uterus inside.
“Is she going to be OK, Dad?”
“Probably not,” he answered shortly, his eyes focused on his stitches.
“Well, why are we doing this then?”
“Well Kelc, the boss wants us to try to keep them all alive. If we have to take her to the sale, we take her to the sale.”
I shut up for the rest of the procedure.
It hurt to watch. After the cow had her baby, she became chopped liver. She’d just offered up the biggest sacrifice and the biggest gift all in one day, only to be hanging there while we attempted to extend her life for—what, a few weeks? A month?
I could tell Dad was irritated, and so was I. Although I was only in grade school, that moment stuck with me into my adult life.
“It’s going to be OK, mama,” Dad said as he sewed her up.
As we pulled out of the hospital parking lot, I didn’t want anyone to fix the situation. I thought of that cow hanging there from the HydraBed. She had no control over what had happened. All she could do was be. The situation sucked, but Dad still comforted the animal. And now, all we could do was what we could do, but I remembered those words he’d whispered to the cow. Those words were the only thing I wanted to hear.
“It’s going to be OK, mama.”