Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ashley, the Hero

I may be a bit premature to make this declaration, but yes, I was a hero on Sunday night. Let me share the story:

Sunday was a beautiful day and I was ready to make the most of it after I turned in my writing portfolio. Josh was working on the farm and I decided I wanted to take some pictures back in the woods to fill some super-cute new frames I had just bought. I was at my mom's house and not wearing farm-appropriate clothing, so I did what any girl would do: I raided my sister's closet. I felt a little like Goldilocks looking through the Three Bears' closet. Pairs of sweats were too small (my sister's butt is a lot less bubbly than my own, probably due to my rediscovery of the amazingness of Jamocha shakes), one pair was too big (
yay TreadClimber!), and some were cropped (not good since my legs hadn't been shaved that day). I finally emerged with a pair of black yoga pants that I decided weren't too clingy and still yucky enough that they wouldn't be hurt by a little farm "dirt" (you never really know if the brown stuff is mud or shit unless you get close enough to smell it. no thanks, I'll let it stay a mystery). I then needed to find a shirt. Lucky for me, my sister is somewhat of a t-shirt whore, and I say that in the most loving way possible. I'm starting to grow my t-shirt collection (thanks in part to my stepmom's discovery of my volleyball uniforms from 6-9th grade and every t-shirt I'd ever painted for a high school spirit week) but I've got a loooooong way to go to get to where my sister is. She's got concert shirts, GVSU shirts, IHS shirts probably stolen from one of my cousins, random school's athletic shirts she scored from Goodwill, and a whole arsenal of cartoon shirts (Old school TMNT, anyone?). I finally settled on a blue shirt with 4RO plastered across the front, with Four flights of stairs never looked THIS good emblazoned on the back, down by the butt. It was a good thing I knew what it stood for because I anticipated a lot of questions about what my shirt meant. My sister lived in Robinson Hall at Grand Valley during her freshman year, and happened to be on the 4th floor (for those of you not paying attention, that's where 4RO comes in). Her floor also happened to be an all-girl floor on top of three floors of guys (yeah, imagine the jokes there...). I've always thought it was a cute shirt so I decided that was the one.

After my wardrobe choices were made, I raided her sock drawer and headed toward the farm. Once I got there I went into the shop in search of my rubber boots. Now, I must say, these boots are completely adorable. They're pink with multi colored stripes. I figure the cows have to look at plain black and brown boots all the time so I'm sure they'd appreciate a little variety now and then. After my feet were adequately covered I set off in search of Josh. He was up in the cow barn getting cows ready to go to the milking parlor. I trudged up through the "dirt" to see him (ok, I knew it wasn't really dirt/mud, but I'm sparing those of you with weak stomachs the visual of me walking through cow shit). The plan was for him to start his quad for me and I was going to take off to the woods with my camera in hand to get some nature-iffic pictures. He was happy to see me (who wouldn't be?) and clearly pleased to see that I had already put my boots on. I got a little caught up helping him get cows ready (it was actually a fun thing to do with Josh. I'm not scared of cows one bit! Well, maybe a little petrified of the bull... but that's another story) and talking with him. We passed the calf barn and I noticed a dead calf waiting to be taken back to Calf Heaven (actually just a pit where all the dead ones go, but it's my story). I asked him what happened, and he told me it got bloated and died. It's very sad, I know, but that's farm life. I didn't think much of it and went on my merry way to go look at the new baby calves born over the weekend.

I was making my way down the row of calves, petting and feeding and baby-talking them all when I noticed that one of them looked funny. I literally did a side by side by side comparison of the funny looking one and the calves on each side of it. (It looked kind of like a split screen because of the way the pens are set up...) I was not mistaken, this calf looked bad. Here's a bit of a lesson on calves: They're pretty much the same width across from their shoulders to their rump. When they get older the get the fat, barrel-like stomach. Well this little girl's stomach was already extremely round, raising a bunch of red flags for me. I went and told Josh, who confirmed my suspicions. We went to tell Josh's dad (who laughed at my boots, a common response for first timers) who mixed up a special potion of Bloat-B-Gone (not really the name, but you get the idea) and fed it to the calf. Figuring that was the end of it, we disbursed. Josh went back to scraping shit, his dad headed back to the milking parlor, and I played with the new barn kittens (sooo cute!).

Later on that night we were at a bonfire across the street from the farm. It was about 10:30, which normally means that everyone has left the farm for the night, when we saw a truck pull into the driveway. After Josh determined it was the vet's truck we decided to head over to the farm, leading the group of half-drunk bonefire goers across the road, too (because I'm SO sure they could help out at this point in the night...). It turns out that the calf was still bloated and Josh's dad had been trying to relieve the pressure in it's stomach for over an hour. He decided to call the vet to try and save this calf from sharing it's fate with the one who had died the day before. The vet did what she could, but still no results. Then she decided to try a last resort: flip the poor baby over on it's back and poke it with a needle. Yes, she was literally going to pop the gas bubble that had formed in it's stomach. She said that no calf has ever survived this treatment, but there was nothing else to do but try. Josh said that if it weren't for me the calf would have died before morning. I saved it's life (for the time being)!!!! He also said I could name it if it survived. Now, I'm convinced that he only said that because he's doubtful that it will survive, but who cares, I might get to name it! I was excited to say the least.

I'm definitely rooting for this girl to survive but so far I haven't been able to get a prognosis. Josh is going to check on it for me later today. If she makes it I'll definitely post a pic. I've already got a list of names forming and I'm hoping against hope that I get to use one of them! I realize this is the extended-length version of the story, so thanks for reading it.

I was a hero, if only for a night!

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