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Life on the family farm under an open heaven: Special

Tom Heck for Progressive Dairyman Published on 11 March 2019

Some things that happen on our farm are difficult to write about, especially what happened here recently. But in farming, like in life, things don’t always go nice. There are hard times and disappointments.

In December and January of this winter, we have seen very little snow and a fair bit of rain, which is extremely unusual for northern Wisconsin. With the snow melting with the rain we received in January, and then getting very cold out, it turned large areas of our pastures and fields into glare ice. This makes it extremely slippery and dangerous for us and our cattle. We went about and put down lots of wood ashes along with salt and sand to make things safer. It definitely helps, but it still is slippery and dangerous.

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Our oldest group of youngstock have shelter in a shed, but they have to come out of the shed every day to come up on the barnyard to get feed to eat and water to drink. This setup has always worked excellently for us.

Well, a couple days after we got all this ice, our heifer Special came up to the barnyard one morning and went down, hurting her back end. Catherine, Joshua and I went out to help her. We prayed for her and put a halter on her. Then we worked and worked to get her off the ice and onto the barnyard where she could get real good footing. She then was barely able to get up, and she walked around with great difficulty. We thanked the Lord for this and prayed, asking Him for full restoration for her.

Now, our cattle come onto our barnyard from the north side, but that was all covered with ice, and I knew Special would never make it back off safely. I surveyed the situation over and decided we would have to open the fence up on the east side of my barnyard. That was a little hard to do, since we had built a beautiful barnyard fence there just two years earlier. But for the sake of our cattle, it had to be done, so that afternoon we went to work and did it.

Well, that evening Special, along with her herdmates, went off the yard through the new opening in the fence all by themselves, without any problems. We were so thankful to the Lord. The next morning, our heifers all came up on the yard to eat, except Special. We went to the shed and checked on her; she was standing up but was afraid to come up to the barnyard because of what happened to her the day before.

I certainly couldn’t blame her. We gently guided her out of the shed and up to the barnyard through the new opening in the fence. She walked very tenderly but made it all right. After that, she made it fine every day all on her own. And with every passing day, we could see her improving.

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A week passed, and she acted totally normal again. Then we had a beautiful sunny day, and the heifers had to have something to do, so they went exploring out in their pasture. The older heifers led the way with the younger heifers, Special included, following. They found a large area of glare ice they thought they had to walk over. Two heifers went down on the ice; one was Special. The other one managed to get up and off the ice on her own – but not Special.

I was shocked Special would follow the other older heifers out onto the ice after what had happened to her the week before. Well, we went to work again and got a halter and got her off the ice, which was no easy thing to do. This time, though, she didn’t get up. We prayed for her once again and then left her lying comfortably. We hoped in time she would get up again.

Unfortunately, this time it didn’t work this way. This second time made her injury much worse, and in the night she tried desperately to get up and broke her one rear leg. So then I had the terrible job of putting her to sleep.

I said to my family, “If she only wouldn’t have gone out onto the ice the second time, she would have been just fine. I thought she would have learned from what happened to her the first time on the ice. But she followed the older, supposedly wiser heifers, and it cost her her life. The other ones made it just fine, but she didn’t.”

So it is with people in life; we have to be extremely careful who we follow and what we do. Some people will lead us astray and insist what they’re doing is all right. That’s why it’s so important for each one of us to read our Bibles and pray daily.

Others will do sinful things that hurt themselves and others. After they’ve done them, they may even be sorry for a while, but then they go back to the same old sinful things, and it only gets worse. It can be alcohol, drugs, gambling or a long list of other sinful things. Some say they just can’t get free from it and, on their own, they can’t. And unless they get free from it, it will end up costing them their lives, and then a horrible eternity awaits them. But I know someone who can set them free and keep them free. His name is Jesus. I know because He has done it for me.

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One day I got down on my knees and repented of my sins and asked Him to come into my heart and be the Lord of my life. He forgave me of my sins and gave me power to overcome them all. He lives within me and has given me a wonderful life; I wouldn’t go back to the old life for anything in this world. He can do the same for you. He loves you greatly and is just a prayer away.  end mark

Tom Heck, his wife, Joanne, and their two children own and operate a 35-cow dairy farm in Wisconsin. Contact him at Life on the Family Farm or order his book at Tom Heck Farm.

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