Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Weaning | TSLN.com

Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Weaning

The trucks are long gone

Help went home

Rancher walks the pen of calves

Silent and alone

He unsaddles his horse

Checks every gate

Says goodnight to all

A responding chorus of deafening bawls

Heads to the house

Tired yet content

Another year done

Time well spent

Cold supper, hot shower

Off to bed he goes

A certain assurance to be found

In those fresh-weaned calves’ lowes

Before the morning’s first glow of light

He rolls over and his brain registers silence

Two hours later he lurches out of sleep’s trance

Praying they all just paused at once by happenstance

Runs for the door expecting the worst

His corral looks like a payloader drove through it

The yard is so silent it could have been muted

He may, or may not, have stopped and cursed

Not a calf one to be seen

Wait, there’s the bum in the yard once again

Where’s his wife this time, yelling he can die of bloat

Here she comes now, with his hat and coat

Where to begin, what to do

Maybe read the Farmer’s Almanac?

Is there a preferred fresh-weaned calf recovery method

Based on the phase of the moon?

He calls Jim, John, Ed and Frank

They all weaned this week, too

Between them, six crooked portable panels are not in use

He sends the wife, they will have to do

His saddle horse is still in, with pinned ears

Unimpressed with the extended work hours before vacation begins

Over the hill they go, man and horse in matched irritation

Following clues of the calves’ generation direction

Everyone is finally back in the half corral, half portable panel setup

His wife has them secured in what appears to be six different ways

He’s not saying a word, just praying they stay

Then eventually come apart when he gets to that day

He counts, and counts, then one more time

Maybe he carried an eight, instead of a nine

Or missed one in that last truck’s sort

No matter how he does it, he is one calf short

One black calf, maybe a baldy

Heifer or steer, he doesn’t know

Either way, finding needle in a haystack

Would be less likely to make one a maniac

He heads to the house

Last night’s rest long worn out

Pondering his options as he plods by the old celler

When that last calf jumps out and flat scares the feller

His heartrate begins to level

While getting her in the pen

Then, he counts once more

Just to be extra, extra sure

Finally, the second day of weaning is done

Like the rest of the year, it’s a been a harder-than-usual job

He makes a mental note to show both wife and horse positive affection

And to sleep with his window cracked that night as an extra form of protection