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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hide and Seek (08/07/08)

TITLE: Being Led Back Home
By Emily Gibson


It was an unusually stormy moonless night when our pregnant heifer disappeared from our field, about a week before her calculated due date for having her first calf. All three of her pasture mates showed up when I called for them, eager to come into the warm, dry, well lit barn. It can only mean trouble when a cow doesn’t respond to a call to an evening meal.

It was pitch black out that night, and in the pouring rain I went to search for her first in the field and then into the adjacent woods, armed only with a rope to put around her neck and a flashlight.

Trying to find a black angus cow on a dark and stormy night in the woods is nearly impossible. I tried all the trails I knew the cows used, and there was no sign of her. With the flashlight, I tried to catch the reflection from her eye in the underbrush, and I listened carefully for breaking twigs or crunching leaves from her footsteps. I called and whistled for her. I was getting very worried something was terribly wrong with my young cow or she had gotten out beyond our fencing.

It was then I heard the noise, a low guttural sound. Searching with my flashlight, I spotted the rise of her black belly, deep in the underbrush, lying on her side. As I approached, the circle of light shone on an undelivered calf, only two legs and part of a head exposed from the cow’s backside.

This young cow was frightened, soaked and clearly had been in labor for a long time, having found what she, in her instinct, thought would be a safe hiding place to birth her calf. Instead, she was almost trapped beneath impenetrable brush, exhausted and cold, with a calf that was not delivering.

I looped the rope around the calf’s legs and pulled, as I’d seen my father do on numerous occasions of tough calf deliveries. The young cow, with renewed energy, gave a push, and the little black calf slid out with some effort on both of our parts. I certainly didn’t expect it to still be living after its long ordeal, but it shuddered, gave a heave and took a breath. Alive!

I grabbed the driest leaves I could find on the forest floor and wiped down the calf as her mother rested, breathing heavily. Then I moved the calf up to her mother’s head. In her weariness, the young cow discovered the reason she had hid herself so effectively. Her new calf was now under her nose, with a scent she would never forget and soon she was tasting and stroking her baby with her rough tongue.

With the rope around the mother’s neck, I urged her to stand, and once her calf was able to manage her own legs after only a few minutes, we walked slowly back to the bright lit barn in the distance. As we got closer, our pace quickened, encouraged by the light, by the animal noises in the barn, by the knowledge that warmth and a meal awaited. My cow’s eyes were wide and reflected back the light she now approached with eagerness. She had been in hiding and lost, but now had been sought out and found, rescued.

In my life, there have been times I’ve chosen to hide when my troubles are overwhelming, thinking it is my safest option. Instead, I become even more lost and miserable, blinded by the dark. I have waited, helpless, to be found, hoping for what is to come. Watching for the door to open, the light to turn on, for someone who loves me and cares for me to fight through the darkness to seek me out, and staying along beside me, to lead me home.

Only then comes the comfort of knowing that once I've been brought into the light, darkness cannot surround me again.

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This article has been read 541 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ellen Dodson08/15/08
Smooth, seamless writing. You perfectly reflect the cow's vulnerability and your compassion for her to parallel with our weaknesses and God's capability. Great job!
Joy Faire Stewart08/18/08
I enjoyed the smooth descriptive writing style and the message was uplifting.
Leah Nichols 08/19/08
I like the tie-in devotional....it's very true! You could probably tighten up the beginning sentences; that is the only thing I find distracting. Well-written overall.
Joshua Janoski08/19/08
Wow. I was not expecting this to be as good as it was when I first started reading it. It started off slow and then picked up the pace. I really started feeling for the poor cow and her baby. I was glad that it had a happy ending and that you took this story and added some application to your life. Very very good!
Marlene Austin08/20/08
This was a tenderly written personal narrative. Anyone who breeds or simply loves animals can easily relate to the emotions you so richly detailed in this story. So much truth in your summary paragraph. Wonderful. :)
Beckie Stewart08/20/08
I really enjoyed this and felt you handled the subject well. I was into this story from beginning to end. I know the feeling too of hiding and needing to allow the Lord to find me. Thanks for this piece.
Helen Dowd08/20/08
Loved this story! Not only because of the emotion brought out by the birth of the calf, but by how you brought out a spiritual lesson from it...The reason I loved the story itself is, I guess it was the "Alberta Farmer" (a title my husband lovingly gives me) coming out in me. Actually, I never lived on a farm--but came from Alberta. I have assisted in the birth of dogs and cats, but never cows; although I was asked to help once...I did see a vet do this calf delivery once, though. Facinating!...Helen