Bucky was all of twenty years old. That’s old for a cow. Of all the animals on the place, Bucky was my wife’s favorite. After all, she was the matriarch of all the bovine livestock on our little farm, all of which descended from her.
Bucky’s daughter is a big grey named Susie. Mary is Susie’s daughter. Then there’s Mary’s daughter, Spook, and her small son, Little Spook. Blackie fits in there someplace. My wife gives names to all the livestock. The names I use for them aren’t quite as endearing as hers and are used mostly when I fuss at them. Most of the girls we keep for breeding purposes while all the boys, sooner or later go to market.
A couple of weeks ago we returned home after dark to hear our little herd making quite a fuss over something. When we went to investigate, we found Bucky lying on her side with all the members of her extended family gathered around her bellowing something awful. It was as if they were all trying, without success, to urge her to stand up.
At first we thought she was dead but soon discovered that she was still very much alive. We tried to get her on her feet but we were unable to make her budge. I thought, "Well, it’s time to put her down." My wife thought, "Kenneth will know what to do." Kenneth Moore was called and it wasn’t long until the lights of his pickup appeared in the driveway.
"Let’s roll her onto her other side," he suggested. I took her front legs and he took the rear and together we rolled her onto her other side. After a brief struggle, lo and behold, she was able to stand up. She slowly ambled away with all her adoring posterity in tow.
The next morning, when she didn’t come up to be fed, we went in search of her. We found her lying in a cedar and oak grove in a far corner of the pasture. Although she struggled to stand, she just didn’t have the strength in those old, worn out legs to pull it off. Shooting Bucky was out of the question so, after my wife said her tearful goodbyes, we put her down quietly with an injected potion the vet had formulated for the purpose.
Now, it fell to me to bury her. I arranged with Dennis Moore for a backhoe. Using my pickup and a tow rope, I was able to get the body out of the grove and onto the site my wife had picked for a burial spot. I had lots of company—all the cows showed up and, with great curiosity, agitation and prodigious bellowing, observed the going’s on. They were not happy campers.
Dennis climbed aboard the big, heavy-duty Caterpillar tractor that was armed with a backhoe in the rear and a big bucket up front. Using the backhoe, he dug a grave appropriate to the size of the deceased and then, using the bucket, gently pushed old Bucky into her final resting place. The other cows were beside themselves with worry at what was happening to Bucky. Susie, in particular, was not a little upset with that big, yellow monster. When Dennis began pushing dirt into the grave, she decided it was time to take a stand.
She lowered her head and charged that huge dirt dozer. She wasn’t going to allow that big, noisy, infernal machine to dump dirt on her Mama! The other cows circled, not knowing exactly what to do but Susie took action. Time after time, she charged that bucket as it did its work. I thought at one point, that she, too, was going to end up in that hole.
It was sad to watch the fight unfold between the poorly matched opponents; the outcome was inevitable. On the other hand, it was exhilarating to watch the underdog gamely take on the champ with a sense of righteous indignation and completely without fear. In spite of the danger to herself, she was going to protect her Mom from that big intruding bully, no matter how hopeless the fight and no matter the danger to herself.
As I watched in admiration, I wondered if I could be that loyal and protective of my loved ones. Do I have the courage and conviction to stand up and protect their good names and to be the kind of person that my mother hoped her son would be? The challenges we face in today’s world are monumental. The temptations are great to give in to avarice and greed, vice and addictions, the pursuit of wealth over giving service to others, unfaithfulness, etc., etc., etc.
I think we need more courageous cows that are willing to take on the big Caterpillars of life instead of circling in uncertainty. Families would be happier, stronger, and more united and enduring.