not your normal mud bath

Last Wednesday, something rare and unusual happened – something that shook me.  It was mid-afternoon and I was sitting alone in the office putting stickers on CSA brochures when I saw Matthew running up the driveway yelling “Suzy, I need your help!“.  This startled me because: 1. Matthew rarely yells.  2. Matthew rarely asks for help 3.  he just kept running past, without any further instruction or elaboration.  So, I ran after him.  He was starting up the tractor and collecting ropes and chains when he said to me, “Fiona is drowning in mud, go sit with her, she is in the corner of the field.

Without stopping to wonder, I ran down the driveway to the corner field where the beef and heifers are grazing.  Matthew and Nicole had moved them to that piece earlier in the day, and Matthew had just been setting up their water.  When I got down there, I couldn’t see Fiona anywhere, so I started walking through the tall grass and mud calling her name.  The front of that field is quite wet and muddy, and my feet were sinking in.

Finally I saw her, the 20-month-old heifer sinking into the mud.  All that was visible was her head and her rear-end.  It looked as if she was laying down in it, her heavy bloated middle sinking.  Most of her neck was under the mud, and it seemed to be a struggle for her to hold her head up.  I sat down next to her, talked to her, and pet her head.

Matthew soon arrived with the tractor.   He explained that when he first saw her there he had tried to pull her out, tried to help her  use her massive cow strength, to no avail.  Every time he began to walk away, Fiona would start to struggle and cry out for him to come back and help.  He was absolutely covered in mud from diving in there.  We spent some time figuring how the best way to tie her to the tractor.  Her legs were so far down in the mud, Matthew had to reach his whole arm in to find one of them.  It was difficult to secure the ropes so they wouldn’t fall off.  All the while she was sinking further.  We had to re-manuvure the tractor a couple times, but then we got it.  With the rope knotted around her rear right leg, the tractor lifted her large cow self into the air and then back out of the mud.  She sat there stunned for a minute.  She was on hard land again.  She hadn’t drowned completely.  We pushed her onto all fours, and she nodded at us before running (almost flying) out to meet the other cows across the field.

Cows are so powerful, yet terribly awkward.  Sometimes, they just don’t know how to use their own strength.  In this horrific situation, the mud puddle was like quicksand, and every time she fought, she sank deeper in.  Then, Matthew moved the fence, so the pasture would exclude the horrible mud, and we watched as Fiona happily reunited with the others.  We looked at each other – completely covered in stinking mud, but giddy with relief.  And thankful that we had been there.

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