Be Free

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Combined Driving

Twice a year we volunteer for CDE (Combined Driving Event) duty at Plum Creek (aka Agarita). Kevin and I don't get the same assignment which means we come back with photos from at least two different marathon obstacles. This time Kevin was at the water hazard and I was at the bridge. Here are a few of our pics (we manage to snap some while we are working). There are more on our website in the CDE gallery. It takes a village to put on a CDE. Lots of coordination is involved!

Spiritually, there are some thought-provoking analogies in these:
When the road is clear before us, smooth and broad, we get complacent.

When we are paired together; we learn quicker to pull our weight; to help, not hinder. As a pair we discover combined courage is generated by functioning as a team. We have more strength than alone. We have companionship when the going gets rough. We have observed that pairing a young, inexperienced horse with a veteran works wonders. The youngster learns far faster that way. When they come to a hazard (like the water crossing for example) and the rookie balks, the experienced horse just drags him right in and across.

We must trust our Driver who gives us direction. Even when the footing is obscured by murky waters, if He tells us our path goes that way, we must believe Him and have faith that He will not tell us to tread out of our depth.

We should not allow ourselves to be driven by those who do not know the course.

Two, pulling as one, is a sight beautiful to behold! Our LORD is with us as we go into the mire and as we come out the other side.

Although the pace is often faster than we would like; He knows the timing of the obstacles up ahead. He knows when we should encounter them; how we should navigate them; how to preserve our energy for them; and that the easy going is beyond.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New camera

I carry my camera everywhere; I drop it and bump it and expose it to the elements. It has been faithful and by having it with me like an appendage, I've learned to use it in adverse conditions. I've also begun to wear it out. Because we have two big events coming up, we purchased a new camera. Our previous lenses fit it. The picture of the moon was taken with the new camera and our old lens. We've taken moonshots before and this one is far superior. Although it looks like I took it at night, it was actually taken before dark. Then the background was darkened and the dog was added. I wanted it to look like she was howling, but she doesn't howl. Ever. She was just grinning. We have much to learn about the new camera soon! But, this picture encouraged us to practice!

On our way home Saturday from a horse show, we saw that many of our neighbors were burning their brush piles! We found out that we'd gotten almost 7 inches of rain! Enough to fill the main pond to overflowing (and it was down to half full) and fill the lower swampy pond completely (it had been dry as a bone; the cows were down there grazing last week!)

Due to the rain, and grass growth, we've been letting the cows in the pasture now during the day. God is good! Even the bovines have some clue about His mercy. They certainly know we open the gate for them! Here they are galloping to come through! Another analogy for you to chew!

By the way, (click to see the picture larger) that's Rosa in the lead, April four lengths behind, then Lucy, and Dillon bringing up the rear. Where's Blessing? Don't know, but she did come in.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beth and the heifers

Months ago we determined that we would sell off some of our cows to pay for the wedding coming up. We discussed which cows to sell and which to keep and harder still, which to process (put in the freezer). We decided to sell our mother cows this year and their heifers from last year. And the bull calf. But, Blessing lost her calf, so, as painful as it is to say this, due to demand for beef among our family members and co-workers, Blessing and her calf from two years ago, April, get to go to Gonzales. We won't tell them why. It is humanely done for those of you who are squeamish. That's why we take them that far (there are several places closer). We are keeping my two favorite cows (and one of those is Kevin's favorite, too). Rosa and Lucy get to stay. And Dillon for the time being. But, that meant we needed to sell the two heifers and Beth. Beth is due to calf within a month. It is actually easier on the calf to be born after the cow is moved. If we were to sell them as a pair, we'd need to wait a minimum of a month from birth before transporting them. Even so, moving a young calf has its risks. So, I decided to advertise Beth too. I prayed that the LORD would make it possible to sell the cows for near market value without us having to actually run them through an auction. Auctions are hard on cows. Very. So, I took pictures of the heifers, Dixie and Dorrie, and of Beth. I wanted them to be current photos. I posted an ad on Craig's list. Within an hour of posting the ad, I got a call on my cellphone from a fellow close to 100 miles away who said he wanted the cows and he'd come get them right then! I explained that it would be Sunday afternoon before we'd be home at a time that would allow loading them. So, we set up a time (3:00) and I was ecstatic! The LORD had answered my prayer so specifically! The folks wanted the cows to baby and to have babies. Just as we had. After he'd already agreed to buy them (without haggling at all about the price); I got four more guys saying they wanted them if the first one backed out. I took their contact information. If we'd had a dozen heifers, we could have sold them all in one day! Of course I had waited until we'd gotten rain and there was more predicted so that people would know they would have pasture. Lots of folks sold off their cattle last year because of the drought; we kept ours because I didn't want them to end up in a feedlot. I made it clear in my ad that we'd gone to considerable expense to keep them grass/hay fed and save them from a life in a feedlot. All of those that responded to the ad understood our concern. Yesterday afternoon the couple came and got Beth, Dorrie and Dixie. They seemed satisfied when they saw them. The cows were extremely cooperative and walked right into their trailer! I led them in with a bucket of cubes. The buyers were relieved to see the cows were tame; they'd been eager to buy them because I had described them as gentle, easy to move and accustomed to hot wire.

What struck me today, is that we're selling Beth to pay for her namesake's wedding! And I still have the picture above of Beth as a calf with Kevin's soon-to-be-wed daughter. The other picture is of Beth last week and of the three of them in the trailer which took them to their new home. Not very roomy. Kevin says cattle travel better packed together. The couple that bought them called us when they got them home and into their pasture to say they were settling in well. That was so nice of them!

I am exceedingly grateful for the LORD making the downsizing as painless as possible for all concerned! He took care of every concern I raised to Him!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What we do AFTER work!

After we get home from a full work day in Austin, and our hour commute, we have a few chores to do. Yesterday, I went down to open the gap so the cows could come home. They were eager to come in. Some folks have a herd of cows; we have a cluster. Once they had paraded up the pasture lane to their bedground, they competed for the cubes we put out. If you look close at the picture of Dorrie, you'll see Kevin toiling up the hill with the buckets of cubes while I was leisurely taking pictures! Actually, we needed the pictures for a Craig's list ad I posted today to sell the yearlings. Rosa, the red cow, is our working cow. Some people have herding dogs, some have cowhorses, we have Rosa. She can gallop with the best of them and she changes leads effortlessly. She also trusts us enough to cross where electric wire was just moments before. The others hang back to see how she fares. Rosa is a keeper. We plan to keep Lucy, too, (the black one), but I noticed last night, that of our seven cows, the two that dislike each other are Rosa and Lucy. Figures. Still, once everybody else is gone, they should appreciate each other.

After we'd tended the cows and I'd fed the horses, Kevin spent a while adjusting the disk on the tractor. He wants to disk up the area in our hayfield where we fed the cows during the winter. He wants to get that done before it rains. Rain is predicted for this evening and tomorrow! We are praying the LORD will send it! The strange pictures were taken by the light of Kevin's headlamp only. No flash. Sort of interesting! Needless to say, by the time we got inside it was like 9:30.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring, the real thing

Halfway through April and we've got Spring! Not the lushest; but, we're grateful for the greening up of the trees, fields, pastures, and roadsides. Here are some definite signs of spring in full-swing around us! On Resurrection Sunday we got some restorative, rejuvenating rain!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Our calf, Emma, born Monday March 30th, died yesterday April 7th. I spent the week listening and watching to see what the LORD would do and what He wanted me to learn from this experience. He always wants me to pay close attention; some things keep me more attentive than others. He knows me. Problems with the animals get points across to me better than any other means. Still, trying to articulate all that I've realized this week is daunting.

Kevin's summary is simpler than mine, so, I give his first. Death is because of the fall.

The calf, Emma, looked fine when she was born. Her mother is a veteran cow; she knows her job and does it well. For some reason, this calf just couldn't figure out how to 'take hold'. She got to the right area to nurse; she punched and suckled all over the bag; but, she just didn't take the teat in her mouth. We saw her going through the motions (from a distance) and thought she was nursing. Because we are gone all the next day we didn't realize until the end of the second day that she wasn't actually connecting with the flow. At that point we put her and her mom in the round pen so that they would have uninterrupted time together to solve the problem. Both mom and calf seemed committed to each other. The cow, Blessing, stood patiently while her daughter prodded and punched. When I described this to co-workers and family, they all asked, "is she blind?" No, not in the physical sense. She could definitely see. But, in the spiritual sense (we're using this as an analogy; I know the calf had no spiritual sight), she was clueless. She was close to her salvation to smell it, but did not grasp it.

On the third evening we realized she still hadn't been nursing. Kevin made a hasty trip to Taylor to get colostrium and a bottle. We mixed it and took it over to Emma. She acted like it tasted terrible. We were supposed to get almost 2 quarts of it into her and all she would take was about 3 ounces. We knew then that unless the LORD showed her HOW to avail herself of the sustenance she needed to thrive, she would die.

The next day we tried again to get her to take nourishment from the bottle. She drank over a quart. What was interesting though, was that she kept taking breaks and going back to her mom to poke around some more. She seemed to associate the milk in the bottle with her mom, but she didn't make the connection with the nipple. The next morning she didn't want any, but that evening she emptied the bottle. The following morning, Sunday, Kevin had to take his son to the airport. I was apprehensive about trying to get Emma up and feed her by myself. Calves have to be standing up to eat. I prayed specifically about this and when I went over to the roundpen, Emma was already standing! I was relieved by that, and I managed to get the bottle in position and pry open her mouth, but she would only take a few swallows. She ate almost nothing at all. That evening she ate again, but in the morning she wouldn't. That evening she downed a full bottle; but that was the last time she ate. She lay down in a makeshift shelter Kevin created for her (with a tarp). I put hay up against her for warmth (and went back later and put a sweater over her). She survived that night and all of the next day and another night (we had frost). But by then she couldn't stand and when we helped her stand she wouldn't eat. Yesterday afternoon she was dead.

I was grateful that we did realize there was a problem, that we took measures to solve it, that we persevered even when we thought it was hopeless, that we looked to the LORD all the way through for what was ultimately best for all concerned. I can think of reasons why this is best: it is now, after the fact, easier on Blessing; this frees us up for many other commitments we have ahead; Emma herself is spared suffering from other health problems since calves which do not get colostrium in the first 3 days (we learned this) will have health problems and frequently don't survive, and it saved us more needless expense, lost sleep, emotional distress...

Even so, it was hard to see an animal hang on like that but stop short of grasping the real source of nourishment. Her little frail body survived being rained on (that storm surprised us), a hot day (without fluids in her), a frosty night (with so little flesh on her to generate heat...but, right by her all the time was her savior, her mom, waiting to meet her needs. But, Emma just didn't grab hold. She rubbed her nose raw butting into the bag, but never took hold of the teat. I can't explain this missing the mark in cattleman's terms; it does happen. In Emma's case it was like she was declining to suck as she should; she wanted it to be some other way. She kept insisting that the means of nourishment be provided her way; she wanted it on a different level and easier to access. Did you realize (I hadn't) that a calf, a kid, a fawn, a lamb, has to pretty much get DOWN ON THEIR KNEES initially to grab hold of the teat? It isn't at the level you'd expect it to be; it is lower. It is inconvenient. If they don't stoop or bow down, they don't "get it". Once they have learned this, though, they can grab it and then stand up and it comes up to a more comfortable level for them (once they have it in their mouth).

In the analogy I've drawn, there are people around us everywhere who are right at the door to salvation, but they keep looking for another way in. It is even more distressing than watching our little Emma slowly decline into a helpless heap; these people are suffering, blundering, shivering, but they don't want to enter in His way.

If I had time, but I don't, I'd find better words to describe what I've seen, but I think you get the gist.

Poor Emma.

Friday, April 3, 2009


This is not my photo; this is not my child; this is not my house; still, what we have here is well worth study. Watching a toddler explore the world enlightens us as we observe them discovering. They expect to see wondrous things; so should we. They are greatly impressed and edified by every day events; all of their adventures are purposeful, even though to us the same things are mundane. For the child, every item scrutinized, every effort to attain, every beam of light pursued, increases appreciation for their realm. Which of us gains as much in the course of a day's journey?

By the way, the darling above is Kevin's first granddaughter. He has grandsons, too. The photo was taken by our talented family documentor.