Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving: Just Words.

Have you seen them?
I have countless friends on facebook who have taken up the November monthly challenge of posting a statement of thanksgiving each day.

"It's a simple thing," I tell myself.
"Everybody is doing it, so I guess I don't need to.
It is just a few words...
random moments of gratitude.

What is it worth, really?"


"Is he still bleeding?  Is that normal for a cow's horn to bleed that long," I ask my farmer.

The steer had broken his horn on Friday and on Sunday, there was still a steady dripping coming from it.

"Yes, they can bleed a lot," he responded from the side of the trough where he was distributing hay.

He'd dusted some blood stop powder on it, but it was still a nasty mess.
Normally, we'd chase him into the headlock and try to get something wrapped on it,
but we had a bull (the result of a fowled clamping attempt when he was younger)
in that pen and it was a pretty risky business to try to get the bull out of there to work on the wounded-horn steer.  We figured the horn's bleeding would stop.

Monday, the steer was lying out in the field and didn't look too well.

My farmer decided to call the vet in the morning on Tuesday as he was still looking pretty forlorn.

When the vet arrived, it was looking as if the steer was in pretty bad shape.
He commented on how the steer's gums and the pinks in his eyes were pale,
like he was near death.

The vet said he had never heard of a cow bleeding to death from his horn,
He checked him for worms, and, although he had some, it was not a bad case.
His blood showed he was anemic, which pointed to blood loss being the cause.

It is hard to watch an animal suffer.
It is hard even when it is an animal that is destined to provide meat.

When you get animals as babies and bring them up:
have to keep their pens cleaned out,
keep their water fresh,
feed them twice each day,

fertilize the hay fields,
buy the hay seed,
plant the hay,
pray for rain to make the hay grow,
mow hay,
rake hay,
ted the hay,
pray the rains will stay away until the hay is baled,
bale hay,
move the hay
stack the hay,
and then feed the hay...

it is a consuming process.

However, there is nothing like watching your animals grow,
enjoy their meals of hay,
watch them stroll out through the green pastures of summer.

Care-taking brings a unique delight.

Certainly the time and commitment
and the money wrapped up in the whole process
makes for a relationship with these animals that is dependent upon each other.

"Will he make it,"
I ask the vet, not sure that I want to hear the answer.

"It is a 50/50 chance.  He has pretty severe anemia."
He explained to me something about the red blood count and some numbers I didn't understand.
He said something like
"35 is normal.
6 or 7 is at death's door.
This steer's number came out at 9.
It isn't looking good, but he does have strength still,
and we've done what we could."


It is never good to feel like there is only a 50 percent chance of hope.
Half of the time, he would die.
Half of the time, he would live.

I am more of a high-hopes kind of person.
High hopes are easier on the mind.

I don't like half-hopes.


I trudge down from the barn, looking up into the clouds and thinking a prayer.

Sometimes it seems strange to live on a farm and pray about animals,
rain for the harvest,
longevity for the equipment,
strength and time to get it all done,
the constant battle against the curse of sin on nature.


 Still, with all the verses in the Bible about farming, ripe fields,
gardening and vineyards,
I remind myself that God cares and understands.

The next morning, unsure of what will be found in the barn,
I opened my Bible next to my breakfast and skim over the words in the passage for that day.
I come up to these words:

Psalm 50:10-15 (italics added)


Just a few words?
but not in God's eyes.

Thanksgiving is a sacrifice, a rich offering of acknowledgement that God is good,
no matter what the circumstances that might be at the moment,
no matter how full the pot of luxuries 
or how meager the crumbs of shifting securities...

God shares that He owns everything.
Nothing surprises God.
Nothing is out of His knowledge or domain.

He doesn't rely on the sweat of our own work,
the blood of our bulls:
it is not what God wants.

He does it all
for good.
He wants our thanks...

when hard times turn out with good results,
and even when they don't seem to to us.


"Nov. 21: Today I am thankful that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills...
but He cares about the one in our barn...

and I am thankful that this time, 
He gave him strength to live and moved him out to pasture again with the others."


  1. Farm life brings one closer to God. I have learned that from knowing you on this blog.
    And that is something I am thankful for…


  2. I am grateful for your concern for the animals. I am sure you are correct God cares for them deeply too. I enjoy your blog. Blessings.

  3. The amazing thing about you is that you are truly, truly grateful for every breath you take!

    Happy Thanksgiving.


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