Her name was Sloppy. She was the only cow in the barn that pressed her nose down on the ball of the water bowl then slurped the water with her tongue.
Not only did she make a mess splashing water everywhere, you could hear her drinking from the other end of the barn shed.
She hadn’t been ‘Sloppy’ in weeks. She was the dame who laid down and gave birth to that bull calf last week.
For the couple weeks and this past week, she drank from a bucket that was placed in front of her and filled until her thirst was sated. She’d lay, chewing her cud, and keeping her chin up.
I clung to the hope that, while she could not stand on her own, she still ate, drank, and made manure like all the other dames in the barn.
Hope is one of those things that no one should easily let go of, nor give up.
Every day, Sloppy was picked up and put on her four hooves to stand. Without assistance she was unable to hold herself up. Her one back leg was stiff and useless. I wonder how many massages it would have taken to regain use of it. However, the number doesn’t matter. I was only able to massage her hip and leg once, but I tried.
Trying never hurt anyone. But we knew before I tried that chances were slim. That’s why I asked her to let him live. She could have choose to give up and her calf would most likely have died with her.
Her bag never filled with milk. She’d done what she could that morning to bring her calf into the world, and now he frolics amongst the other calves.
I wish I had a happy ending to Sloppy’s story, but she simply couldn’t hold on any longer.
Yesterday afternoon, Sloppy slipped peacefully into Heaven’s green pasture.
Yet, I can’t help wondering if I would have been able to stay there at the barn longer if she wouldn’t have improved more. I’m told the answer is no, but there’s always that what if that lingers inside you. Though living on a farm has taught me that farm animals can come and go, It has always brought me grief when one of the cows dies. Usually not that often, but often enough that like a beloved pet, you mourn them.
Sloppy was more than a number on the farm, she was one of the dames, and she’ll be missed – slurping noises and all.