"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china."

Charles Dickens

March 5, 2017

Watching Caesar Go




The sun was out after some late winter severe weather in the past few days. I caught a glimmer of movement in the window that always occurs when a vehicle passes through the farmyard and is refracted by the shining light. Thinking that either my husband or boys were home early, I got up to look out. Nothing. Then I heard a low rumble on the other side of our small farm home and saw a truck pulling a cattle trailer. Inside of it, all alone, was Caesar with his big, black, Angus presence. Of all of the other bulls besides Edgar, who is our only bull for now, he would allow us to pat him on the head through the fence.

"I wish I hadn’t seen that,” I said aloud to the empty house (I am alone now here for long stretches—from 7:30am until 3:30 or 5:30pm—as my sons now drive themselves together to school). So I talk to myself a lot—or to two of our six cats who are allowed in the house.

I knew that Caesar would be picked up today and taken to auction but as I hadn’t seen him one more time since a few days ago I had already separated from the idea of him leaving. Every time an animal leaves the farm a part of us, and a part of our farm, goes with them. Their fate is undetermined as they go to auction—they could either live on another farm or go to the slaughterhouse. As a meat eater one has to accept that reality.
  
But to see that same magnificent animal, behind the relative prison bars of a cattle trailer, riding behind the truck up the hill away from our farm to an unknown future or demise—well, it was devastating.

I was reminded of another goodbye–of when my husband and daughter drove up the hill, pulling a small trailer, on their way out to Colorado where she would live. It was just after my 50th birthday and she had been living with us here in Kentucky for much of that year, in between two stages of her life. For the first time in five years I had everyone under one roof again. For a mother there is no greater comfort than that.
"What people don't tell you is that you lose your children. As beautiful and wonderful as you are now, the little girl whose hair I used to detangle and had bad dreams and used to crawl into my bed? She's gone." 
–Madeline, "Big Little Lies" (HBO)
All was quiet in the darkness of that early November morning-there were not even any birds. So it was fitting that it was like empty nest all over again watching my daughter drive off, at 5am, to an uncertain future where there are no guarantees, only possibilities. I watched until I could no longer see the small, piercing eyes of red tail lights on the back of the trailer–where my daughter's life was placed for safe transit. I listened until I could no longer hear the sound of the car engine on the ridge. I prayed for a safe journey for both of them–round trip for my husband and one-way for my daughter.

And then I went back into the house, and I cried.

You come back when you're ready!

Catherine

3 comments:

  1. Oh Catherine, so glad you're "back"! I've missed your witty & real musings. So many of your writings touch my heart & this post about leaving is no different. I've cried many tears as well, when my children leave & I never feel as good as when everyone is at home under one roof! Enjoy our coming Spring~Debbie

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  2. Well, that brought a tear to my eye right here at bedtime. Beautiful.
    Just wanted to let you know that I'd stopped by. I left you a comment at that other spot we shared. I'll definitely be back here!
    Vonne

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  3. Yes, it is so sad to see our fellows go on the truck. This year I had to send our boy to town - unsound after five years. sigh. He knew too; ambled onto the trailer with a couple cull cows. But onward: I'm getting a new young bull in June to add to the three new Romeos from last year! AnonintheMidwest

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