Saturday, July 26, 2014

"For the Love of Work"

For the love of WHAT, you say? Well actually, I said work. And honestly, that's how I feel. And I guess that's my privilege, right?

It seems like in today's world, work is a four letter word. It's what you do because you have to get your hands on a few dollars to pay the bills and buy the groceries.

Now I realize, I love my job. (most of the time; more on that later) Some people's jobs aren't as pleasant as mine so that colors their thinking. I have a friend that works in the grant department at a prominent VA university and he says he dreads going to work because he has to work with a bunch of grouchy old women who want to rule the world. That would sorta take icing off the cake now wouldn't it?

Of course every job, no matter how great, has it's downsides and bad days. Before I took up logging and then later joined forces with son Myron, I managed a dairy. It was a wonderful job. There were a few downsides like cows getting mastitis, not getting enough rain, getting too much rain, the milk check not being big enough to cover the bills, the well pump quitting in the middle of a snowstorm, the mix wagon breaking down late Sat. night,etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

I remember well one of the worser starts to a day on the farm. It was in the winter sometime and when I got up to milk it was just above freezing and raining that absolutely miserable VA winter rain. Oh yeah, that reminds me; getting up to milk. That was the daily downside to life on the farm. I hated getting up that early. I would set my clock a half hour fast so that when the alarm went off I knew I still had some time to sleep. Besides that I would set the alarm maybe 45 minutes early and hit the snooze every ten minutes until time to get up. Drove Mary crazy.

Back to the miserable, cold, rainy morning. I headed to the barn, started the sanitizer cycle for the milk line and stumbled out into the cold to get the cows in from the pasture. I hadn't gone too far until I came on a cow that had freshened during the night. In other words, she had calved.

Which was all normal, well and good. But she had milk fever. Cows with milk fever can't get up; it's like they loose muscle control or something. The cure for milk fever is to give them IV dextrose with calcium and often a few minutes after you've given them one bottle they are ready to get on their feet.

But there was more. She had also pushed her uterus out. Sometimes after cows calve they continue to push until they turn their uterus inside out and push it out of themselves. If you've never seen the uterus of a cow, you have missed quite a ponderous sight. You've gotta remember, a 80 to 100 lb. calf has just come out of this thing. Suffice it to say, the uterus of a cow looks considerably better on the inside of her rather than out. And if you've seen one on the outs, you have wondered along with me, "How in the world will all of that fit back in??"

So I trudge back to the milk house, get my IV kit and a bottle of treatment. I don't remember which procedure I did first. Probably the IV. You need at least three hands for this. One to hold the light so you can see to find the cow's vein in her neck. Another to press down on the vein to make it bug out; and the other to insert the needle. Then hook it to the bottle of dextrose and watch the bubbles as the fluid flows slowly into her vein.

Then start on the other job at hand. A nasty one it is, too. You have to lay down on the ground because that's where the back end of the cow happens to be. You gently start to shove some of the uterus back where it came from. The cow doesn't usually take kindly to this and pushes mightily back so five minutes of progress can be undone in one big push. So you start over and finally after you are exhausted and wishing your arms were a foot longer, the thing slips back into it's place.

Then it's time for a few stitches at the back end to keep the cow from pushing it out once again. And then it was time to go get the rest of the cows in and finally start milking, probably at least an hour late by now.

As I said, all types of work have their downside.

But the other evening, after putting in a full day of work already, I came home and got a bite to eat and then went back over to haul a couple loads of mats to another yard. These mats were in the way where I was stacking logs and I was too busy during regular working hours to get them moved.

Now I've always enjoyed working outside the regular hours. It's peaceful. You don't feel the same pressure as during the regular hours. I will have to say, though, that there is a little downside to this as well. Mary has the idea that I'd don't like to be with her at home. She says it's good practice if she ever has to be a widow; she'll be used to it.

Anyway, I was driving the truck, pulling a trailer load of mats. After a very hot and humid day, the temperature had dropped and the breeze felt quite pleasant. The sky was lovely in the west with the scattered clouds and the setting sun. The truck sounded mellow and sweet in the evening air. I let out a long satisfied sigh and wondered what else in the world there could possibly be to do that would be better than this??

But did I mention downsides? The very next day towards evening Myron called me. He said a truck is here to pick up those mats you just moved the night before. I told him I'd lead the driver down to the other yard   ( 7 miles away) and get him loaded up.

I was positively sure I knew which mats Myron meant. I mean if I were a swearing man, I would have swore to it. Plus, a bad thunderstorm was threatening and I was in a hurry so I didn't ask to see the driver's paperwork. He was Hispanic and didn't speak English very well and who knows if he had looked at his paperwork either.

I got him loaded and headed home. Along about the middle of the next day Myron calls me again. The driver is sitting at the job site (somewhere in upstate New York) and he has the wrong mats on his load.  Oh brother did I ever feel sick and helpless.

I guess you've got to give it to the cow, at least with her you had something to push back against.

Oh well. As they say, it's all in a day's work. Speaking of which, the truck driver got about two more day's work out of this job than he had counted on.

Needless to say, at our expense.


  1. I just have to say, I love reading your blog! It always makes me laugh :) Jewel Gingerich

    1. Thanks! So that year you spent in my intermediate Sunday school class didn't end up warping you for life? At the time I thought you were the most promising student in the class. But then I have been known to have poor judgement at times. :-) Wishing you life's very best! Merle

  2. Hey Jewel good to hear from you! Come visit Gladys again sometime!