A tough life lesson can be the most valuable kind
By Theresa Blume
When I was in junior high, we moved from the eastern side of Wood County to an old dairy farm close to Vesper. As we set about building our new farm, I graduated from riding ponies to horses.
There was Archie, a retired barrel racer who took the bit in his teeth and bolted wherever he wanted with his rider hanging on for dear life. Choya was a Roman-nosed, faded-colored pinto acquired from a fellow rider. Though he was not much to look at, he was faithful, well-trained, and trustworthy. The family favorite was Misty, a slightly stunted, beautiful red quarter with white trimmings and delicate features and a sweet gentleness that made her appealing to young and old.
I often think of the grey mare named Easter around this time of year. We did not name her, but I think she might have been born around Easter. I especially remember the foal she delivered one cold, snowy spring.
Knowing she was going to deliver soon, my dad put her in a special pen apart from the cows so we could watch her closely in case she had any trouble. She delivered sometime before we got to the barn early one morning.
When we walked in, at first we did not see a foal, but then we found the poor little guy wet and dirty scrambling underneath the cows who were trying not to step on him. Apparently he had slipped underneath the pen’s boards and could not get back to Easter.
We wanted him to have the benefit of Easter’s valuable first milk called colostrum, but unfortunately when we put him in the pen, Easter had already disassociated the smell from her baby. Maybe she blamed him for pain she felt giving birth because she laid her ears back, threatening to harm him.
We had no choice but to quickly throw together another pen in which to deposit him. We extracted the milk from Easter and bottle-fed him, hoping for the best.
The vet was called out to look at him, and when he inserted the thermometer, the little guy tried to jump out of his arms. The vet exclaimed, “Whoa there, charger!” and we named him Charger.
My sister and I were determined to keep him healthy, so we bottle-fed him every two hours. It was encouraging to walk into the barn in the cold darkness hearing his expectant whinny. However, within days his whinnies grew weaker, and one morning we were grieved to find his lifeless body in the pen.
I blamed the vet, even knowing then that it was not really his fault. I am glad for that experience even with its sadness. It gave me a natural wisdom about the reality of life. I also learned that just because we do not get everything we want does not mean we should not do our best. We gave Charger nourishment and love for his few days on Earth, and that comforts me. Even sad memories can be life lessons if we embrace them.